Simon Killer

A bold, unexpected and sickenly tense sensory experience with Brady Corbet outstanding.

Released in cinemas 12th April 2013.

Underrated actor Brady Corbet (Thirteen, Mysterious Skin) gets the standout role he deserves in this slow-burning study of a handsome young American sociopath holidaying in Paris after a difficult break-up.

Afterschool director Antonio Campos creates a feeling of disorientating dread in this chilling, sordid portrayal of manipulation. Drifting through Paris, unsuccessfully hitting on women in the street, the lonely Simon befriends a local prostitute (a brilliant Mati Diop) and worms his way into her life with a show of vulnerability. Corbet’s Simon is superbly realised - unpredictably tortured, terrifying, frightened and all-too-human all at once. An understated Diop makes her brothel worker so much more than the hooker with a heart of gold cliché.

Despite the title, this is more grimy, low-rent Talented Mr Ripley than the voyeuristic, sadistic Maniac, and that Martha Marcy May Marlene director Sean Durkin produced is apparent with the vague sense of unease and discomfort. There are some compelling moments: the camera holding on Simon in a nightclub during LCD Soundsystem’s ‘Dance Yrself Clean’ when he tries to impress literature student Marianne (Constance Rousseau), the raw, uncomfortable sex scenes that speak volumes about relationships, and Campos’ uncompromising look at the gentle persuasion that happens between people every day.

With an emphasis on Simon’s post-graduate work on peripheral vision, the camera plays with perception, but the abstract colours and dizzying soundtrack work well with the more subtle effects. It may be graphic, but this is no exploitative affair, painting its amoral character as a lost, pathetic creature and provoking debate about the victims of his selfish greed. A bold, unexpected and sickenly tense sensory experience with Corbet outstanding as he builds his web of lies.

Rating: 8/10