Overview: A group of "teens" who look suspiciously like they're all pushing 45 spend the night in an abandoned insane asylum/party mansion having an underwear scavenger hunt/getting murdered to death blowout extravaganza. Meanwhile, an evil Businesswoman who buys her makeup from Chez Skeletor chews on five packs of unlit cigarettes a day while doing tedious paperwork and reading newspapers at the local library for our cinematic displeasure. We're not sure which half of the movie is harder to watch.

Directed By: Ken Barbet, 2001

The Case For: One of the kills is actually mildly entertaining (you'll know which one, trust us.) Also noteworthy: possibly the worst screaming woman in horror-movie history.

The Case Against: The rest of the kills range from boring to ultra-boring to deeply confusing, depending on however drunk the cameraman was for any given scene. Also, there aren't even enough kills to fill more than 30 minutes worth of dumb teen slasher movie, and the B-plot they try to stretch it out with is thinner than Casper the Friendly Ghost on an all-meth diet.

When you watch a good slasher movie, you should either be rooting for the victims to make it out alive from whatever twisted labyrinth of horrors they've been written into, or eagerly waiting to witness all the sick and demented ways the director could come up with to lop topless girls' heads off with scimitars and roll them into bowling ball return dispensers, or turn lazy susans into medieval torture devices that fling bimbos into armoires made of broken glass and baby crocodile teeth. As if to spite its own name, Killer Instinct delivers on neither of these slasher promises. There's not a single jury-rigged fart flamethrower or acid trampoline or Africanized piranha bazooka or super-atomic skeleton wedgie to be found here; not even so much as a creepy disembodied grinning clown ghost strangling Korean schoolgirls to death through the internet with his penis. Well, alright, there's one scene that comes close to being borderline amusing:

But while we thoroughly enjoyed the Rube Goldberg severed-head air-vent surprise, none of the other kills are even remotely worth mentioning, especially the ones which are shot and edited so confusingly that after multiple viewings we're still not sure exactly who died or how, but according to our loved ones we may both now have late-stage Alzheimer's. Suffice it to say that nobody would - or should - ever watch Killer Instinct for the "killer" part. This is pretty bad news, because like most other generic slasher movies, Killer Instinct consists mainly of filler scenes and flimsy excuses to set up splattery layups for said gory homicide spree. What remains, then, is a wreckage of nothing - a movie so banally generic that it no longer even really belongs to the genre it so badly wants to crawl inside and cozily die like a cat sleeping in an engine block.

Actually, we're selling Killer Instinct short by just calling it a generic slasher. It is, in fact, the gold-standard archetypical prototype of a pointless, derivative slasher. Killer Instinct checks all of the required boxes:

  • Fake teens so old that their hemorrhoid donuts have long supplanted their first blowjobs on their lists of fondest memories,
  • Said "teens" hanging out in an abandoned insane asylum which is over-lit to the point that nothing will ever be scary anywhere again[1],
  • Paper-thin characters whose only reaction to danger is consciously choosing to split up and die one by one,
  • And of course the classic token black character (a delightfully flamboyant fellow we've taken to calling Gaylord Wayans) who, shockingly, gets knocked off first.

They even throw in a goddamn Wilhelm scream just to make sure no cliche is left unturned. Unfortunately for all of us, ol' Kenny B. wasn't able to recruit enough suckers to appear in his trainwreck, and so all of the above still only adds up to about half of a horror movie.

Aaah, oooh, I'm so scared, uhhh.Aaah, oooh, I'm so scared, uhhh.The other half of the movie is spent watching an evil, high-powered business lady go to the library and look up old newspaper articles and tax documents on microfilm while quietly clenching and unclenching her ironclad anus, which is almost as exciting as it sounds. Watch in awe as she sits in a dingy motel room reading county government census documents! Strap your seat down like a fucking mental patient to keep it from blasting off into outer space with thrills as she skypes with her ugly friends about land titles and holds a soggy, unlit cigarette in her mouth for an entire hour of screen time! We're not kidding, by the way; she really does do all those things, more or less - especially the cigarette one - so if you've ever wanted to see a malodorous old hag with a Misty Menthol Ultra Lite dangling crookedly out of her foul, gaping Sarlacc hole without ever even lighting the damn thing for a solid 90 minutes, you've come to the right place.

Killer Instinct's worst sin actually isn't being two separate movies; it's unwisely attempting to somehow tie both plots together. The killer turns out to be one of the girls in the scavenger hunt, who came to get revenge on everyone else's parents for lynching her dad in the past[2]. All of the parents, coincidentally, work at the same meat-packing plant or whatever that Corporate Skeletor is trying to take over. This leads to the two of them meeting at the funeral, where they agree to team up and ruin all of the parents' lives even more, because killing all of their offspring just wasn't good enough. Business Mummy thinks that murder-girl will go far in the corporate world, because she can tell she has that "killer instinct". And with that horribly contrived excuse for a titular line, they drive off into the sunset to plot revenge and presumably a sequel which we pray will never exist.

Even while it's actually trying to be what it promises on the cover, Killer Instinct is such a generic ball of slasher cliches that it should be in textbooks for aspiring B-horror-movie makers as a counterexample. And who the hell decided to fill half of a mindless coed slasher romp with that goddamn corporate takeover story involving a meat processing plant and lots of meetings? Pointless coffee-shop meetings, confusing board room meetings, teleconferences, you name it. Basically, Killer Instinct was one romance subplot and a handful of CGI animals away from becoming the original Birdemic - and either of those things would have actually made Killer Instinct more watchable, God help us. Take our advice on this one: go watch that Rube Goldberg decapitation surprise clip a few more times, and then never look at or think about this movie again.

Special Effects-7
Music / Sound-8

[1] We do like that instead of just shooting in broad daylight like some directors we could name, Killer Instinct goes the extra mile of making the lighting a plot point, in which the asylum is filled with thousands of carefully arranged candles to set the mood. Because there's nothing a bunch of shitfaced teenagers spending the night in a haunted house would rather do than spend several hours of monotony lighting candles to deliberately kill all of the haunted atmosphere stone dead.

[2] She's never really investigated at all despite having a pretty strong motive and obvious connection to all the victims. Her brilliant criminal plan? She tapes the evening news from that night, memorizes it, and then claims she was at home watching the news. And it works. Of course it works.

– Garrett "Hydrogen" Neil and Sean "Trillaphon" Neil (@trillaphon)

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