Inside us lives a killer. I believe there is a point in everyone’s life where one feels betrayed, done, and giving up on life that never runs along. Maybe you feel it, too. But I bet you didn’t (and don’t want to) realize that in the very deep corner of your soul, there hides this bleak, gloomy, dangerous, and scarying ‘another you’ waiting for the whole time, painstakingly, to show up and replace the ‘current you’ you made just to be accepted by the society. And when it does show up, you feel very confident to do bad things, even the sickest things you could ever imagine, because no matter it is right or wrong, you just need to win over and gain the satisfaction of victory after life beats you with problems and misfortune the whole time. This is what Killers is factually all about.
Bayu (Oka Antara) is the fucked-up. His investigation over Jakarta’s corruption-suspected politician Dharma (Ray Sahetapy) never gets finished. And for that, he left his wife (Luna Maya) and his only daughter (Ersya Aurelia). It is unknown if they already filed a divorce, but Bayu’s wife already invites another man to her house. His parents-in-law does not seem to like him, too, while at the same time his relationship to his daughter becomes worse. This chain of despairs finally climaxes at one night, when he was robbed in a cab. There, he commits his first murder.
Thousand miles away in Tokyo, Nomura (Kazuki Kitamura) is an executive with suits, car, no friend, but a silent house with a specific room—you can call a ‘torture room’—where he does his hobby: torturing his victim to death while recording it on camera. He uploads this torture video on a website, where Bayu is surprisingly a loyal visitor. He finds excitement watching people screaming while being beaten by hammers or baseball sticks but he never have courage to do it the way Nomura did. So, after having a private chat, Nomura challenges Bayu to just commit his next murder and torture.
The Mo Brothers (Timo Tjahjanto & Kimo Stamboel) is previously known for his controversial slasher-thriller Macabre which being banned in some countries. I admitted that I had a company to watch Killers on cinema because, like you know, I’m ‘allergic’ to gore and I thought Killers would be as gory as Macabre. It was surprising that the sick level of Killers is substantially low. Blood is still spurting but most violences are off-screen. I believe this is not the sickest you could have from Timo and Kimo. Well, some may feel bored in its first 45-minute because the thrill was a bit undercover and the Jakarta-Tokyo dual-story never combines or relates smoothly.
But then I realized that we should not pay big attention to the story only. This Sundance-released flick is more a personality study of two characters: one learns to be a devil, while the other is already a devil. We learn how Bayu wants to manifest his distress by killing people, but at the same time feels uneasy and uncomfortable doing it. In the other hand, Nomura has already used numerous amount of tools to torture people (hammers, baseball sticks, golf sticks, stone, gun, pliers, you name it), but then he meets Hisae (Rin Takanashi) who softly lectures him a more submissive way of giving up on life.
I think it is not difficult for the duo directors to simply dripping blood and displaying violence, but here they tend to be patient and focus their efforts to dig their two leading characters. And for me that is the reason why valuing this movie based on the plot alone is irrelevant. If you see through it, you see how the duo directors try to point out one big topic: life is sucks. Thematically speaking, I guess Killers is a loose version of Fight Club, or an ethereal and ‘clean’ version of A Serious Man, where people find that when you try to make a life by achieving merely what you want, it suddenly plays game on you. Killers shows that sometimes people desperately need to be a manic to stop everyone from playing fool on them.
Telling two continuous timelines back-to-back, the film editing is sufficient—if not staged. But kudos to the composer and cinematographer, for maximizing the thriller effect with style. I mean, forget about Fast and Furious’ cars shooting spree: we’ll have a gun fire within a car. How cool is that. Specifically, Oka Antara is the one who deserves my big applause. I don’t understand with other viewers around me, who tend to laugh on his sticky spit instead of admiring his wild, killer look. He is genuine, and it is pleasing to finally find a dedicating, potential young actor from Indonesia. He is a promising star in the future.
Killers rounds up what will happen if you give yourself to devil. Bayu and Nomura were sick of their life, but they can’t pay revenge on it. So they use people as an object. They beat their victim to death, feel pleased, but never get finished. They feel brave but inside they were distraught. So they do it again: Nomura feels more and more confident doing it while Bayu gets more and more uneasy about it. The Mo Brothers shows us a new version of ‘being sick’ that is different from some simple-and-straight full-of-blood violence; it is about a manifestation of our darkest side that come up to reality. Thrilling, sadistic, but also dramatic.
▲ A focused personality study of two serial killers, stunning audio-visual work
▼ Staged Jakarta-Tokyo dual-story
KILLERS | COUNTRY Indonesia, Japan YEAR 2014 RATING 17+ RUNTIME 137 min GENRE Action, Drama, Thriller CAST Oka Antara, Kazuki Kitamura, Rin Takanashi, Luna Maya, Ray Sahetapy WRITER Timo Tjahjanto (story), Takuji Ushiyama (original story) DIRECTOR Timo Tjahjanto, Kimo Stamboel MORE INFO