Starring: Victoria Ullmann, Pia Pownall, Jaquelyn Aurora, Lauren Carter, Jana L. Laurin, Jon E. Nimetz, Devex Oozer
Written by: Ulli Lommel
It’s amazing what gets distribution deals these days. With Baseline Killer Ulli Lommel once again plumbs the depths of low-budget and delivers a film that is just barely above the production value of an extended Youtube video made with a webcam. In fact, the most charitable thing to be said about Baseline Killer is that it makes the viewer curious to see just how a film this poor can possibly last for 90 minutes.
Supposedly based on the real Phoenix, Arizona killer/rapist, Baseline Killer follows a group of young women gathered for a reunion, which is happened upon by the titular misanthrope. The Baseline Killer proceeds to pick the girls off one by one, leaving fresh corpses behind for the survivors to stumble upon. That’s really the whole plot and it’s as straightforward as a story can possibly be.
Ulli Lommel does the bare-minimum in set design and it seems he takes advantage of whatever location he can shoot at for cheap. So, for example, if a police station looks like it was shot in a factory, it probably was. If an apartment scene looks like a floor display in a furniture store, it probably is. In fact, viewers familiar with Lommel’s work will recognize the Images Furniture Store that was used for every internal shot in 2004’s Zombie Nation. This time around, Lommel doesn’t even bother pretending it’s an apartment by keeping his shots tight. Instead, according to the dialog, the protagonist actually lives in a furniture store, forcing the viewer to swallow this fact as something believable within the universe of the film.
What audiences will come to despise, however, is the seemingly utter lack of a script. It becomes most apparent when the female victims unwittingly gather in the warehouse for their 5-year reunion. In a typical movie, this would be the scene where characters and/or the plot(s) are developed. Instead, viewers will be treated to fifteen minutes of impromptu mindless banter intercut with shots of the Baseline Killer slowly approaching, navigating through a maze of furniture. Imagine listening to a cacophony of conversation between eight young women about how their hair looks or what high school classmates they’ve recently run into and most viewers will start siding with the killer, urging him on to his grisly task just to shut the girls up.
The Baseline Killer delivers the exact opposite of fear with his performance as he menaces the girls with a toy shotgun that has a scope and a laser sight mounted on it. He periodically turns off the lights and yells from the darkness, “Hey you bitches and ho’s!” A failed rapper turned serial killer comes to mind. Also, apparently, killing people is tiring work, because the Baseline Killer often takes lengthy breaks, which allows the girls to sit on a couch and have calm conversation about what they were doing before coming to the party. This is a paltry attempt at character development, but ultimately it has nothing to do with the story. Instead, it’s a setup for the poorly written and misspelled epilogue.
The female cast does an admiral job with the dearth of direction they were no doubt given. Unfortunately, without a script, all of the girls develop the same character and become indistinguishable. So while typical survival-horror films have definite archetypes, like the pessimist, the hero, the sidekick, the given-up and others, in Baseline Killer, all of the girls individually play all of the archetypes at one point or the other. Ultimately, the film is pointless.
The world is a cynical place and it’s obvious that Ulli Lommel is capitalizing off that reality. With over 50 films under his belt and all of them presumably just as terrible, he’s no doubt found out what the bare minimum of viewers is who will rent or buy his films for whatever personal reasons. Perhaps these viewers are misled by attractive box art or a well-written synopsis. Whatever their reasons are, these viewers guarantee a certain dollar figure that Lommel obviously makes sure to stay below when budgeting his films in order to turn a profit. Considering how poorly produced Baseline Killer is, there can’t be that many people watching.