Joel (2018)

Director: John R. Hand
Starring: Arnold Odo, Fernando Cano, Bri Bynon. . USA . 1h 25m

A majority of serial killer movies are based on a few well known names, which can get repetitive as directors try their socks off to make an impressive, accurate and daring movie. Sadly most of them are total rubbish, missing the point,going off key missing out important details and even fabricating events.

But in all honesty films about serial killers will never really be what the die hard enthusiasts are looking for because those insensitive details are not cinema friendly. Most of the time the killers have been executed and promoting their ideals and theologies just don’t make the cut, but in the case of Joel Rifkin (Odo), the New York Ripper, there’s so much more opportunity to make a really in depth study about the incarcerated killer and it was totally missed here. Joel is still with us and has executed some really detailed and personal interviews where he expresses more about himself and the murders he committed than his movie does.

The film opens well, it’s pretty low key when introducing Joel, who’s slow narration matches his ability to stagger through life seemingly without much purpose, often a target for bullies and with loggerheads with a disapproving father,  The film neglects to mention that he was adopted and there are some other facts that have been keenly skipped over. Joel’s life kinda sucked until he discovered sex and prostitutes then things changed.. A lot.

Eventually the boy would turn into man who got into all the seedy vices of the backstreets of NYC. While holding down a vague line of work, he couldn’t afford to move out of his parents home as he spends all of his money on girls, booze and basically pisses his life away. Then one fateful night, he didn’t have enough money to pay his date for the night, after trying the ATM he needs to wait for his cheque to clear but while they wait, he decides to kill the girl instead, then takes a nap and later on the next day he cuts her up and disposes of her body. This then becomes a repetitive event and the film becomes incredibly monotonous too.

The purpose of the film isn’t really clear to me, if I wanted a list of murders I can look at the wiki, I’ll give credit for it going through each and every murder, but it becomes this process which then becomes a struggle. The repetition really dulled the movie and sucked any life left out of it, much the same as Joel was doing to his victims.  It’s fairly accurate for most of the time and i hope it achieved what it intended to do, whatever that might be!? Odo did a great job at mimicking the killer, both physically and there’s a lot of similar character in the narration.

After totally killin the vibe with the downtrodden atmosphere and lack of action and direction, the film ends, luckily it’s pretty short and for me totally forgettable.

Rating: 2/10

R: Bundy (2002), Peter (2011), Angst (1983)

A: Serial Killers on film and why it will never be great.

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