Artik, written and directed by Tom Botchii, is a new horror-thriller with a killer premise. However, despite the interesting concept at its core, the film is simply too uneven and messy to be a particularly entertaining viewing experience.
The movie follows a comic-obsessed serial killer that is teaching his son how to get away with brutal murders when his son befriends a stranger that starts to pry into their lives, causing their world to come crashing down. This premise allows plenty of room for interesting ideas to be explored, such as the psychology of a killer or the way in which violence in sensationalized in the media, but sadly, Artik is a disappointingly flat and straightforward thriller.
Perhaps the biggest issue with this film is that it cannot decide who the protagonist really is. You would expect that the son of the serial killer would be the protagonist, but he is not the dominant force in the movie. Instead, his father (and even his newly befriended guardian angel) are more interesting and fully-developed characters.
Ultimately, this film needed quite a bit of streamlining to be successful. There are some interesting moments in each of the three storylines — the killer’s endeavors, his son’s coming-of-age, and the stranger’s investigation — but they never come together into a whole that feels cohesive or satisfying.
The highlight of the movie is undeniably Jerry G. Angelo’s performance as the eponymous killer. Angelo single-handedly holds the film up on his shoulders with his turn that is sometimes over-the-top but always fun to watch. It really is a shame that Angelo wasn’t given more to do with his role, as he is evidence of the tremendous potential that this movie had.
Additionally, the film features some interesting kills. The special effects for the gore are surprisingly strong, especially for a movie as obviously independent as this. Some of the film’s visuals are gnarly, though they are never truly disturbing. As a result, despite the lackluster script, genre fanatics may very well be pleased by this movie because of its brutal nature.
That said, the impact of the violent moments in the film is somewhat diminished by the visual style. The cinematography and editing are both relatively rough, to an extent that it often distracting and draws you out of the movie. There are also a few gimmicky moments throughout that seem designed to mask the budget of the film.
There are plenty of fascinating ideas and talented people on display in Artik, but unfortunately, the end result is far too messy to be successful. As Botchii’s feature debut, this movie shows that, with some refinement, he could bring some interesting things to the table.
Artik is now playing in theaters and hits DVD/VOD on September 10.