Benny Loves Killing (2012) – By Misty Layne

Benny Loves Killing (2012) is the first feature from Look/Think Films and is the story of a young student making her horror film, her way. A difficult beauty, Benny Loves Killing is both a love letter, and a bullet, to cinema.

The film premiered at the 60n Film Festival in Norway, picking up a nomination for Best Film. Recently Benny Loves Killing has played in both Denmark and the USA, picking up the Best Horror Film award at the Oregon Independent Film Festival.

A lot of the time when I receive screeners, there’s a fair amount of information given going in, so I have at least an idea of what I’m about to watch. Going into Benny Loves Killing however, I was in the midst of packing up to move houses and on the verge of a mini-nervous breakdown, so I didn’t do anything except precariously carve out the time needed to watch – based on the title, I thought I was getting myself into some deliciously subversive horror movie shenanigans with an indie spin (what kind of serial killer calls themself “Benny”??). I was wrong. Instead what I got was a meta-film dealing with horror movies with a dark side of psychological chaos à la Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan (perhaps Aronofsky has been an influence somewhere?).

Benny is a film student who is working on a project and insisting that it be done her way for class (she wants to make a film when the class only requires her to write papers). After having her school half-heartedly agree that she can do the film and use their equipment and have funding, she sets out to complete her horror movie masterpiece but as the actual movie of Benny Loves Killing starts to unwind, we see that the only horror isn’t what’s being played out in the movie within the movie at all but in Benny’s life itself. Benny seems to be homeless and moves from friend’s home to friend’s home, sometimes staying for a while and sometimes being kicked out straightaway. She steals; she seems to be a compulsive liar and she never, ever showers. On top of all that, Benny has a drug problem that seems to be getting bigger and bigger… as her horror film unfolds, the actual horrors in Benny’s life grow larger and more uncontrollable every day till she’s unsure who or what the monster in her life is.

Pauline Cousty is superb as Benny giving a performance that is deeply nuanced and layered. It would’ve been so easy to over play Benny but Pauline never goes there and it’s refreshing to see an actress play with not just the language given her but the pauses and spaces in between. There are several other characters here that come and go throughout the film and they are all fine in their own way but my focus was purely on Benny.

The film is also visually stunning at times not because of any special effects but in the way it plays with colors – especially in the characterization of Benny who at some point starts wearing different wigs and colored contact lenses she finds in people’s houses, so determined is she to be someone other than herself. And there’s one instance with a red scarf (and this seems to stand out for most people who have seen this movie at last in what little I read online) that’s absolutely beautiful in its simplicity and meaning and is heartbreaking and uplifting both at the same time.

If this is the first feature from Look/Think Films, I can’t wait to see what else comes from them. Benny Loves Killing is a film for people who love film and it gives me hope for the future of filmmaking. If you’d like to learn more about Look/Think Films and Benny Loves Killing, check out their website. You can also find them on Reelhouse, Twitter and Facebook.