The serial killer thriller sub genre has had many highs, with such classics as Manhunter, Silence of the Lambs and Se7en. There have also been quite a few lows as other films tried (and failed) to replicate their success. It has been a popular genre, one which has taken something of a cinematic backseat in recent years due to the success of television shows like C.S.I and Hannibal. Most big screen movies today are aimed at teenagers and they’re more interested in spectacle rather than slow burning dramatics. Genres always ebb and flow, with certain types of films fading from popularity as others come into focus. It was only when watching 2012’s Profile of a Killer that I realised that I haven’t seen a new serial killer movie in a long time and that the experience was a welcome one.
Profile of a Killer follows an FBI investigation lead by Rachel Cade (Emily Fradenburgh) into a series of random killings throughout the American mid-west. She calls in Saul Aitken (Gabriele Angieri), profiler in an attempt to get an insight into the killer’s mind, but things take a turn when Saul is kidnapped by the killer, who we learn is a teenager named David (Joey Pollari). Saul and David begin to form an odd bond as Cade tries to track them down before Saul becomes another victim.
Writer/director Caspian Tredwell-Owen gets a lot right with Profile of a Killer. It’s clearly a low budget film, but he has managed to stretch it to make it feel cinematic. Visually it looks great, and you can almost feel the cold seeping through screen from the bleak wintry landscapes. Even though it’s a cast devoid of ‘name’ actors, the filmmakers have cast the right people for their roles. Fradenburgh brings enough strength to her female agent without her character feeling like a Clarice Starling copy, while Angieri is also well suited to his role as the as the captive profiler. Joey Pollari has a tricky role as the young killer and the central concept of the film hinges on him. He hits the right notes without overplaying things, helping David to become a fully rounded character rather than a flat villain.
Profile of a Killer has a lot going on – we switch from the FBI investigation and Saul and David’s relationship and I feel that some of these elements could have had a little more room to expand. Getting the rhythms right in the edit process is hard to do and Profile of a Killer tells its story well but I feel that we could have had more. Watching it made me want it to be more like a television mini-series, developing the plot threads in more detail. It’s a small niggle, and a personal one, which says more about my cinematic selfishness than anything else.