Damaged (2007) – By Duane L. Martin

 Kate and Emily are both having a really crappy night.  See, Emily is ten years old and lives with her paranoid schitzophrenic grandmother.  Emily happens to be paranoid schitzophrenic as well, and recently her mother just hung herself in the doorway of the house…or so they thought.

Kate is a care giver who got stuck having to work that night relieving another caregiver on the night shift taking care of Emily and her Grandmother.  She was supposed to have a special night with her boyfriend, but that all changed when the call came in.  What came next was a night of hell for Kate, Emily and Emily’s grandmother.  And how does Kate’s boyfriend fit into all this?  You’ll have to watch it to find out.

Damaged is like a psychological thriller and a serial killer flick all rolled into one.  Through about the first half of the movie, you wonder if the guy that seems to be stalking Emily and her grandmother is actually a real person because of their paranoid delusions.  Unfortunately for them, he was all too real.

I had a hell of a time trying to watch this movie.  Apparently it was burned on a dual layer recordable disc and my DVD player in the living room was having serious problems trying to play the disc properly and then I brought it in here to my computer and even my dual layer burner drive had a hard time with it and kept stalling out.  Needless to say, this review almost didn’t make it into this issue.  Eventually I did get it to play enough to get all the way through the movie though. (Obviously, since you’re reading this.)  Hopefully, future copies won’t have this issue.

The film itself started out quite slow for me.  In fact, through about the first maybe third of the movie, I didn’t think all that much of it.  It’s not until Kate actually arrives at Emily’s house to take care of them that things actually pick up and start getting interesting.  The fact that it took that long to get interesting though isn’t a huge problem because that initial lead in was necessary to set up the story.  If or when you see the film, you’ll see what I mean.  That first part of the movie was used to introduce the characters, establish what Kate’s job was, show what happened to Emily’s mom, etc…  It was all necessary to the story.

I’ll say right now that I’m not big on serial killer flicks.  They just don’t interest me usually because all they seem to be about is, "how twisted can we be with inflicting torturous pain on these people before we actually kill them?"  This film wasn’t like that.  This film actually had a serial killer that was psychologically interesting to watch.  He was into scaring the hell out of his victims and inflicting painful and brutal deaths on them, but he did it for the rush of it all.  He got off on the rush of feeling people die as he killed them.  The thing is, when he wasn’t killing people in brutal and deranged ways, he was just a normal guy who kept getting into regular relationships with women…before he’d end up killing them.  In some ways, he seemed like a normal guy who was just addicted to killing people.  Sure he was nuts, but he could turn his straight persona on and off at will, which was pretty sweet.

Technically, this film was quite well done, except for one minor thing, which I’ll get to in a minute.  The editing, pacing, sound, and everything else was all very well done.  The acting, especially by Emily and Kate’s boyfriend was spot on, and the whole look of the film was perfect for what it was.  However, there was one problem…it was too dark.  Sure being in a dark room, or sitting around wondering what’s lurking in the shadows is spooky…but only when you’re actually there.  It becomes frustrating when you’re watching a movie though when you can hear stuff but you can’t see anything that’s going on.  There has to be a balance achieved between making a scene moody and making it damn near invisible.  Film is a visual medium, and when you can’t see what’s going on, you might as well just be listening to a radio play.  Now that’s not to say the whole film was like that, because it wasn’t.  It just seemed like the majority of the scenes shot in the house were overly dark.  Houses do have lights in them.  It seems a little odd that they weren’t turned on.  Aside from that though, the film was very well done from a technical standpoint.

Before I saw the film, someone told me it was disturbing.  I guess it is to a point, but I think over the years I’ve become so desensitized to this kind of stuff that it would take a LOT to actually disturb me.  People who are really into horror movies won’t even be phased by this film, but people who generally aren’t, will probably find it all quite disturbing.

I see a lot of films that try to work on the level that this one did, only to fail miserably and end up coming off as nothing more than cliche and tired.  This film managed to avoid that trap and ended up actually being rather cool in its execution. (No, that wasn’t intended as a pun.)  So check it out if you get a chance.  As indie thrillers go, it’s actually pretty sweet.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out the film’s website at http://www.damagedmovie.com.