The Orphan Killer (2011)

Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #125


Number of Views: Multiple
Release Date: November 1, 2011
Sub-Genre: Slasher/Splatter
Country of Origin: United States
Running Time: 82 minutes
Director: Matt Farnsworth
Producer: Matt Farnsworth, Diane Foster
Screenplay: Matt Farnsworth
Special Effects: David Presto, Josh Turi, Paul Molnar, Arielle Toelke
Cinematography: Matt Farnsworth, Aaron Medick
Soundtrack: Born of Osiris, First Blood, Asking Alexandria
Editing: Matt Farnsworth
Studio: Full Fathom 5
Distributor: Full Fathom 5
Stars: Diane Foster, Matt Farnsworth, James McCaffrey, John Savage, Karen Young, Charlotte Maier, Spencer List, Dana DeVestern, Margot White, Mike Doyle, Ivan Martin, Karen Olivo, Ezra Knight, Allison Salvetti, Jon David Casey, Brian Delate, Ramon Villa, Hector Lincoln, Celina Vignaud, Michael Ray Escamilla, Lucian Maisel, Ian Colletti, Walter Masterson, Federico Castelluccio and David Backus as The Orphan Killer


Suggested Audio Candy

Born Of Osiris “Follow The Signs”


Right then Grueheads, it is time for Keeper to roll up his sleeves and get down and dirty with some acute independent splatter courtesy of L.A. filmmaker, Matt Farnsworth. Anyone fearing that the quill had gone flaccid after a few lighter appraisals can think again. If you read my analysis of Fred Vogel’s awesome The Redsin Tower then you will be aware that I have a spot softer than a newborn’s cranium for a nice bit of exploitative carnage. Story becomes a very poor second to grue on this occasion, it becomes solely about how effective the dispatchment and how course the blood flow. Step up The Orphan Killer, a movie which makes its mark purely by being called The Orphan Killer. It has a pleasant ring to its title, no skirting around its intentions, Farnsworth clearly has one aim in mind and that is to spray crimson at us obstinately from whichever angle feasible.


Watching The Orphan Killer is akin to listening to The Eagles your whole life then suddenly being initiated in Cannibal Corpse for the first time. Escalating carnage is the name of Farnsworth’s petulant game. Pure and simple, those of a limp disposition expecting some spooky fable based on Dickens’ Oliver Twist will be truly thwarted. On the flip side, if you wish to bear witness to gratuitous bloodshed and the sight of faces being smashed in at regular junctures then keep on reading as The Orphan Killer will invariably quench your thirst, and then some.


Contrary to first imaginings The Orphan Killer doesn’t lurch from place to place slaying bastardized children, he is the urchin of the piece and a pretty demented one at that. He’s the kind of stray that holds out his bowl but then, as you prepare to give him some more, he cuts your tongue out of your throat and carries it off to desecrate further. A real twisted individual, he wears a grimy mask a la Myers and Voorhees but where those two hulking harassers were never the most eloquent public speakers, our grudge-bearing Oliver vocalizes his beefs as if inside a confessional.


This is always a dicey endeavor as traditionally icons prefer to remain ambiguous but Farnsworth’s risk pays off as he loses none of his menace through doing so. If anything it adds to his appeal as his gruff tones suit his character’s unsympathetic look duly. It charts the exploits of Marcus Miller, a bundle of gestating rage, who pursues his sister Audrey throughout the movie in an attempt to make her repent for leaving him untended at a Catholic Institution run by the kind of nuns who used to pop up in seventies European exploitation flicks.


After spending years inside his holy reformatory he sets off to right the wrongs of his sister and eviscerate any poor unfortunate who stands between him and his estranged sibling. When he is presented with a gift, he unwraps it like an excitable toddler, using (by and large) his machete to carve a lesson into his hapless victims. Farnsworth decides not to score The Orphan Killer and, recognizing his core audience, fills the airwaves with some rather Hardcore Metal courtesy of Born of Osiris, First Blood and Asking Alexandria. This approach works, his grainy visual style is almost Grindhouse and the accompanying ax grind and monotone delivery suit the raw appeal of his work hand in glove.


He keeps himself under duress by taking on the roles of writing, directing and editing as well as being cinematographer and co-star, his ruffian icon looks lend themselves perfectly to proceedings and the real find here is Diane Foster who plays the beleaguered Audrey. She puts in a go-getting turn as our tormented sibling. There could very well be a big career in horror looming for Foster; she shares production duties as well as delivering a feisty show of back-to-the-wall femme fatale. Clearly of the equivalent bloodline as Marcus, she gives him a torrid time after finding her spine and won’t lie down like most of the fodder on exhibit.


David Backus inhabits Miller with commendable gusto and serial swagger. Having decided to use his voice-box, he could have been at a distinct shortcoming with regards to appearing overbearing but he lets his stance talk for him. Standing with intent and purpose, Backus cuts a ferocious figure against the slickly photographed grimy locales.


The SFX are well handled, dipping rarely in quality, but for the most part bang on. And Marcus can swing a motherfucking ax! A career as a lumberjack could be on the cards if Backus doesn’t go on to better things as a result of his commanding role here, but he may struggle to become a clergyman. He teaches a less than honorable priest the consequence of his demoralizing experiences at the institute. Farnsworth isn’t just crafting a slayer with no back-story with Marcus Miller. He is intent on franchising this angel of death and on this display looks like he may well achieve that claim.


There are a handful of themes explored loosely by Farnsworth; abandonment, the scars left by corporal punishment and the whole nature vs. nurture debate. Wisely he skims these topics as he knows his audience, but in the process he highlights the talent he has as a filmmaker. His 2005 film Iowa won acclaim on its unveiling so this isn’t some grue-loving meat head making our art. He is destined for great things; moreover The Orphan Killer is preordained with a long and lustrous career on this evidence.


The acting standards are easily remedied with a larger kitty but then maybe it wouldn’t appeal so personally. Also, Farnsworth shot this with super high-end Viper so I urge you to do the savvy thing and chase this baby down on Blu-Ray. That is exactly what I shall be doing. The Orphan Killer has already amassed a huge online following with well over 350,000 Facebook likes and a fiercely dedicated following and the proof is right in front of us. With both Victor Crowley and Chromeskull taking side-steps in their pursuit to become the newly crowned mascot of modern slasher, it appears that Marcus Miller may well be blind-siding them and Keeper will hold out his bowl pleadingly when he makes his return.


Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 8/10

Grue Factor: 5/5

For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: Does a grizzly wank in the woods? Of course he does, at every opportunity and such is the frequency of the distasteful splatter on parade almost relentlessly. I recall fondly recapping my experience with my buddy and he stated he thought something was up when ten minutes passed without some vitriolic retribution taking place. This my friends, is the crème de la crème of independent splatter, faces have machete blades plunged forcefully into them, then wiggled around in the freshly formed cavity, there’s a particularly unpleasant beheading, several cases of appendage severance, a barbed wire garrotting plus thorny hand shackles, a truly savage ax dismemberment and a curb-stomp to make Edward Norton’s teeth chatter. I haven’t even listed it all, utter deprived carnal pleasure. Talking of which, Foster shows us her soft supple side with a crowbarred-in flashback shower scene (presumably to wash away the on-set grunge). This is of particular interest to anyone with a penchant for exploitative wash-downs as she has nipples like English Pointers and a back rack like two skinheads in an elevator.


Read The Orphan Killer: Bound X Blood Appraisal

Read Iowa Appraisal

Read Found Appraisal

Read The Redsin Tower Appraisal

Richard Charles Stevens

Keeper of The Crimson Quill

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