Michael Madsen Laughably Bad in The Killing Jar

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The Killing Jar
Directed by Mark Young
New Films International
Opens March 19, AMC Empire

When a filmmaker sets a group of innocents in a dead-end restaurant and has them terrorized by a crazed gunman, it's probably not his goal to have viewers think, "Just fucking shoot everyone." But the flesh bearers in writer-director Mark Young's The Killing Jar (it's too big a stretch to actually call them characters) are by and large either gratingly stupid or insufferably one-dimensional. There's no reason for them to live, and Young gives you no reason to care. It's just before closing in a small-town café in which a handful of yokel locals (the sheriff being the biggest dunce of all) are polishing off remnants of their meals. The radio ominously broadcasts the news that an entire family in a nearby town has been brutally murdered, and the assailant is on the loose. Two men enter the establishment shortly thereafter, one of them played by Michael Madsen. Can you guess which is psycho? The film has no pulse and feels interminable, with its stilted dialogue, static staging, and usually fine actors who are horrendous here—Amber Benson is all moist-eyed empathy as the waitress while Madsen is laughably bad, dredging his dialogue up with much volume, but transparent (and completely understandable) indifference to everything around him.

 
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