The Honeymoon Killers

The Honeymoon Killers ★★★★

Famous films about killer couples frequently veer close to romanticising the central characters. Most people know about Bonnie and Clyde, but may be reminded of two attractive actors, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway looking extremely cool. Can anyone name their victims? Leonard Kastle's brilliant and unadorned tale of two killers spits blood at these flashy portrayals of mass murderers in a thriller coated in grime and engirdled by ugliness. Made to feel almost like a documentary and shot in trashy looking 16mm high contrast black and white, ' The Honeymoon Killers' kitchen sink based action makes everything feel especially authentic, with master shots adding great intensity to this startling true story.
Contemptuous of the desperate ageing women more than willing to let them into their lives, the vile conman Ray and his solipsistic partner, Martha have the objective of conning these wealthy maidens out of their fortunes, with a spot of murder thrown in when things don't go smoothly in an attempt to fulfill a half baked plan of getting a ' nice house in the suburbs.'
Expertly judged by Kastle who shrewdly reveals Martha's psychopathy by showing how the act of killing acts as a kind of sedative, as her neurosis gives way to calmness, getting rid of evidence like she's doing a spot of spring cleaning. Echoing Alfred Hitchcock's view of violence and how a director ' should do the minimum on screen to achieve the maximum effect,' the violence is stark but lacklustre and repellent. Kastle achieves far more from showing you a close up shot of a victim's terrified expression or the horrible split second sound of someone yelping behind closed doors then he does by being gratuitous. A dowdy, anti glamorous look at the banality of violence that still manages to be highly compelling.

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