YOU’RE KILLING ME is a wry and delightful black comedy of very bad manners, of which murder may not be the most heinous. In it, a group of hip twenty-somethings on the fringes of show biz negotiate awkward game nights, the finer points of dating etiquette, and the protocols of disposing of a dead body. As fame is pursued, life lessons are learned and the body count grows.
Matthew McKelligon stars as Joe, a troubled young man who is looking to break into the big time of killing people. He exudes a brooding intensity combined with a peculiar sort of innocence that is irresistible to George (co-writer Jeffrey Self) as the meet cute over frozen beef with broccoli and a dead body. Not that George knows that there is a corpse involved. The running joke in the film, a joke that never gets old thanks to clever writing and deliciously, ahem, deadpan acting, is that Joe is completely honest about his killing spree, which includes some of George’s friends and acquaintances, but George assumes that Joe is being funny. As a gloss on the nature of honesty in a relationship, it’s piquant; as a conceit running through the movie, it does the double duty of becoming funnier with each oblivious dismissal by George, even as the suspense it generates builds as George’s innocently deprecating comments leads to more and more murders. Cattiness as the lingua franca of the gay community, in this context, makes him an unwitting accessory to murder.
There is a bite to the ironic dichotomy of the buoyantly arch world in which George lives with his friends, and the literal world Joe makes of George’s blithely insouciant declarations. That each believes he has finally found his soul mate is handled with a droll facetiousness, as they have conversations with each other that have completely different contexts, as when Joe assures George that he is always prepared for the kill, packing as he does a duffle bag full of knives and energy bars. Quick cutting reveals the pure evil of Joe’s mind, yet the actual stabbings are as much a satire on slasher films as they are disturbing when the entrails makes their appearance.
YOU’RE KILLING ME revels in its irreverence, from issues with therapists and cutting barbs about angry noses, to the hapless would-be songstress of the group (Edi Patterson), whose songs no one wants to hear, to Mindy Cohen’s appearance as a woman with good intentions and melting sherbert. Throughout it mines that combustible mix of the whiff of desperation about careers not taking off, and the firm conviction of one’s as yet undiscovered genius. It’s funny, wily, and waggishly twisted. Enjoy.