THE KILLING OF JACOB MARR is an independent horror film from the folks at 221 Films. It is filmed in NY and PA. The story opens in Maine during 1985 and introduces a quiet boy, Jacob Marr, who enjoys nothing more than watching TV and playing his Atari 2600. His father is concerned about young Jacob’s inability or unwillingness to communicate while his mother acknowledges he is going through an awkward phase.
His frustrated father sends Jacob outside to cut wood just to change the child’s routine. While splitting logs a meteorite falls in the woods nearby and piques Jacob’s curiosity. That night Jacob is haunted by the object, seemingly hidden among his FRIDAY THE 13TH VHS tapes– and goes into his parent’s room and splits his father’s head open with an double bit axe and then kills his mother.
After the murders, the film then jumps to present day. The tech support scene is forced and sounds almost like Howard Hawks had never shot THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD with no interruptions and even allowing brief pauses before and after background dialogue between the lines of the main cast. The delivery of the lines is mostly good but the stiltifying effect makes it come across as more wooden than it really is though the dialogue gets much better.
As Ted and Dan escape the tech support hell they pick up Claire and meet up with two other friends, Doug and Ellie. On the trek to Maine to a cabin at the Forks they stop off at a Voorhees Market giving us the second F13 reference. They get some local gossip concerning the cabin from the helpful though cheezy Crazy Ralph-like shop keeper named…Mr. Voorhees.
The trip to the cabin is down treacherous snow-covered lanes that help amplify the isolation and the night shots of the drive are cringe inducing and bring out the fear of the unknown. Things go south from the moment the friends hit the cabin. Things are amiss at the cabin from the missing cabin owner, no key, abandoned toiletries, abandoned clothes and a stocked kitchen greet the weekenders. Doug goes missing after he and Ellie are attacked on a hike after they discover Jacob’s tree house. Later that night a young woman is found roaming the woods outside of the cabin in a state of shock. As luck would have it she is the daughter of the current cabin owner. The group hunker down in the cabin awaiting light to go search for Doug should Jacob allow it.
This flick hits on many of the tropes of the slasher genre while going against the grain on a few of them much to my delight. Some of the classics are: obliterated pictures of the killer as a young boy, lets split up and investigate, domineering shrewish wife, single dorky friend, two friends who can’t hook up, go for help but we can’t leave X behind, disabled vehicles and the perilously ever absent cell signal. Instead of a fearful young woman who is not confident about who she is we are given a milquetoast guy who for the most part let others make the decisions until it was time to overcome his fears. It is nice that there is no explanation of what Jacob was doing for all those years between the murder of his parents and the murder of the cabin caretaker. Presumably he was living in the woods doing gorkish things and I love when there is no explanation. Much of the fear in these flicks is watered down when they get too deep in the killer’s history.
The acting is fairly good besides some problems with delivery in the office it holds up well with the exception of Ellie who was the annoying character of the movie. If it was done purposefully, kudos, but it was overdone and grates. Dan’s character is pretty much the voice of the viewer, he’s seen too many horror movies, asks the questions we ask, “Who the fuck is that?” “Why do we have to leave right now?” “Why aren’t we talking to the one person that can give us answers?”
There is some inconsistency in the effects, mostly with Ted’s clothes and face covered in grue. It looked a bit watered down on his face and it looked real bad on his clothes. Other than that minor issue the practical effects were well done and shockingly brutal. The on-screen kills deliver the goods to satisfy the most sickened of gore hounds! Jacob is horrifying. He resembles Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory but his eyes are clouded over and his woodsman’s attire is nightmarish as well. A mere glimpse shows this man is not to be taken lightly. The malevolent intelligence at work is apparent in the deliberateness and brutality demonstrated in the kills.