An Hour to Kill

I recently wrote about a film called Little Deaths that disappointed and even angered me. As you likely know by now, I like anthology films, especially horror anthology films, quite a lot. I get excited when I see one coming and that one did nothing but let me down.  Luckily, I got to watch a different portmanteau horror soon thereafter. It was called An Hour to Kill.

To start, I went into An Hour to Kill knowing absolutely nothing about it. I didn’t know that it was an anthology film, or that it was horror of a sort. It takes a bit to reveal itself, and to be honest the start is kind of rocky. It opens like a grimy, low-rent L.A. gangster flick. We meet two guys in a bar and they banter blandly.  Things pick up when Gio (Aaron Guerrero) arrives. This actor has an ease, a naturalism to his performance that makes him a pleasure to watch onscreen.  Gio and Frankie (one of the guys in that opening bar scene) are hitmen and they have been on the trail of a mark, and now they are waiting until the correct time to carry out the next hit.

Unbeknownst to Frankie, he’s the target of that next hit. The film then becomes him and Gio trading stories while time passes. Some of the dialogue is sub-tarantino banter, and the wraparound story does feel like a less thoughtful In Bruges, but that doesn’t matter.  What matters are the tales they weave.

The first, and my favorite of the stories is a quasi-slasher. It is about a groups of teenage girls on a trip to steal weed from a marijuana farm. The farm is located near an abandoned bunker where some sort of Nazi experiments were undertaken. The bunker is haunted by a gasmasked killer who stalks the young women and takes them out one by one.  It’s artfully done and shows a lot of restraint. You expect this material to devolve into a lot of T and A punctuated by gruesome and lurid kills. Those expectations are totally subverted and that makes for a clever and fun experience.

The second tale is not nearly as subtle. It centers on the world of competitive eating . Two losers play a cruel trick on another eater involving the hottest chili in the world. We get a bloody trip to the toilet that isn’t easy to forget.

The third tale involves  a quest to have sex with large women, who turn out to be pig mutants who want to eat the men. It’s a “what the hell did I just watch” kind of thing.  It does have some clever moments, and the cast is engaged enough with the material to make it work.

An Hour to Kill is a goodnatured take on B-Movie tropes twisted around a knock off Tarantino premise with a Troma level sensibility. It isn’t for everyone, that’s for sure, but if you have the right mindset for this kind of material then An Hour to Kill is a good bet.