Switch Killer Review

Anthony Nield has reviewed the Region 0 release of Switch Killer, a trashy exploitation pic involving strippers and serial killer.

Pre-credits our heroine is escaping an abusive boyfriend who’s recently provided her with a nasty facial injury. Post-credits and six months later she’s a stripper in Vegas, a lesbian and being pursued by a serial killer. In other words Switch Killer is unashamed exploitation trash and nothing more, a film governed by how it is going to get to the next stabbing and/or topless scene. It’s also mostly unremittingly awful, brings nothing new to the table and utterly devoid of suspense, humour or titillation. Yet it’s difficult to get worked up about Switch Killer as it has no pretensions to be otherwise and seems fully aware of its future as a misfortunate rental for that poor soul hoping for some brisk and, more importantly, mindless entertainment.

As such any pleasure, however minor, are eagerly lapped up and, in the most generous of moods, Switch Killer does provide the occasional moment of interest. Of course that isn’t to say that these tiny glimmers are wholly positive but nonetheless they grab the attention in such surroundings. Most prominent is the sub-plot involving the lead’s grandmother. Oddly for a film so blatantly geared towards the trashier end of the market, the plotting here is wholly in keeping with a typical TV movie offering, i.e. lumbered with appalling dialogue (“You be careful… they say this is the most dangerous night of the year”) and overwhelmingly mawkish. Indeed, one “heartfelt” moment is followed by a gratuitous shower scene, demonstrating the sheer incongruity of such an additional character. And of course the pointlessness of such scenes – and therefore the character of the grandmother – only leads to predict just how soon it will be until the inevitable slashing comes about.

Yet, oddly, such a murderous endeavour never comes about, just one of the moments when Switch Killer proves to be not quite as predictable as could be expected. All of the hallmarks are there – the handheld point of view shots, the backlighting, the single figure staring out from a crowd – but this isn’t strictly by numbers all of the time. There is, presumably, supposed to be some mystery as to who exactly the killer is (though even the slowest of viewers will hardly struggle), yet such sheer obviousness never quite prepares you for the outrageous twist that comes right near the end, one which I won’t spoil and would also no doubt be employed by William Castle were he just starting out in pictures today.

Incidentally, the conclusion of the film, during which time this twist is revealed, comes just after the hour mark, the final, twenty minutes being occupied by outtakes, a music video which edits together all of the gore and nudity and a deleted scene set at a “wet T-shirt” contest which holds no connection to the main feature. I mention this solely to demonstrate that Switch Killer is over before you know it. Hardly a recommendation, but then the film is perhaps slightly better than could be expected.

The Disc

Despite having been made this year (2005), Switch Killer’s DVD presentation is lacklustre in the extreme. Though there are scant technical difficulties to speak of, the print chosen to transfer the film has the look of a poor VHS copy. As such it’s panned-and-scanned (the opening credits and trailer are at a ratio of 1.66:1 though it‘s likely that the correct framing should be 1.85:1), murky – making much of the film difficult to discern – and coupled with a soundtrack that similarly requires a good clean up. As for extras, these extend solely to the original trailer and a series of promos for various other Screen Entertainment releases, some of which are far superior to Switch Killer, others less so.

Anthony Nield

Updated: Apr 28, 2005

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