I have to admit that for about 20-minutes I didn’t hold out any hope for Out To Kill. It starts out following Justin (singer/songwriter/actor Tom Goss), who lives in an apartment complex full of gay people and believes he’s just about the best thing that’s ever happened to the planet. He’s the type of guy who thinks looking good is all that matters, treats nearly everyone else with disdain, and just about everything he says is a sexual come-on.
It appears he’s going to be the lead character – and an intensely annoying one he’d be as well. Therefore it almost comes as a relief when he’s found dead in the communal swimming pool (that sounds like I’m being nasty, but if you watch the movie you’ll know what I mean). The police are quick to blame the death on a drug overdose, but Justin’s friend, Gene (Rob Moretti), thinks it was murder. He hires new resident and private eye Jim (Scott Sell) to investigate.
It doesn’t take long to discover that no one liked Justin much and many aren’t at all sad that he’s dead, but was he killed, and if so why? As Jim gets closer to one of the other residents, Vic (Mark Strano), secrets are revealed.
I did have a few problems with Out To Kill. The first is due to the fact I’ve watched too many murder-mysteries, which meant that from about halfway through it started to become clear where this was leading, so when the big reveal occurred – which is supposed to be a massive surprise that upends everything you think you know – it was rather underwhelming and it also helped underline that the denouement actually makes far less sense than the movie thinks it does. However it won’t just be me who works it out, as if you’re a somewhat savvy viewer you’ll know what’s going on, particularly as there are a few too many moments that are supposed to be throwaway comments, but which are so random or unnecessary that it’s like a beacon telling the informed viewer it’s a key clue.
However, a murder-mystery isn’t just about finding the killer, it’s about how you got there, and on that score Out To Kill is much more successful. Despite a few too many scenes where people just sit around explaining things and a few actors whose talents are probably better off behind-the-scenes than in front of the camera, it’s quite fun. Scott Sell is a great lead as Jim – it certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s quite nice to look at (indeed, most of the cast are quite pretty) – and his journey into Justin’s death certainly keeps you watching. In fact it probably doesn’t matter too much that a lot of people will know exactly whodunit, as it then becomes intriguing wondering how it’s going to tie itself in knots trying to explain it.
The film is a bit of a change of pace for director Rob Williams, who’s become a mainstay of populist gay cinema with romantic comedies such as 3-Day Weekend, Make The Yuletide Gay and The Men Next Door, as well as the more dramatic Role/Play. While it retains some of the flaws of his earlier films (not least the aforementioned plethora of sitting around explaining things scenes, which may be due to the low budget but could be made more interesting), it’s not a bad trip into the world of murder-mystery, a genre which is certainly underserved in gay cinema.
Overall Verdict: Although it’s not too difficult to figure out what will happen in the end, Out To Kill is a fairly interesting trip into the relatively rare world of the gay-themed murder mystery.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac