The Kill Off

Director: Maggie Greenwald
Screenwriters: Maggie Greenwald

Institute History

  • 1990 Sundance Film Festival


In The Kill Off, Maggie Greenwald makes an incision into a town where the survival instincts of the inhabitants are bitterly in overdrive. The off-season at this crumbling coastal resort unearths the surf and a milieu of vindictive characters, infested with contempt. At their center is Luane (Loretta Gross), a bedridden women whose only source of diversion and strength is the web of intrigue her telephone gossip can exploit. For the other townsfolk, there are few diversions, little chance of escape, and no hope of redemption, particularly with the seemingly omniscient Luane eaves dropping on their every move.

Luane's much-younger husband Ralph [Steve Monroe) tries to find love with a prostitute, turned stripper named Danny Lee (Cathy Haase). She has been hired by Pete Jackson Sims) to try to drum up business for his failing bar. Pete also has to contend with his hate-filled, smacked-out daughter Myra (Jorjan Fox), who is running around with the drug-dealing Bobby (Andrew Lee Barrett) and waiting for an excuse to "off”" her father. They all scratch and claw at one another destructively. However, all are especially tormented by Luane's knowledge of the skeletons in their closets, The drama tightens as the desperation of each character begins to be focused on Luane.

Based on the novel of the same name by the legendary Jim Thompson, Ms. Greenwald's adaptation retains the nihilism and intrigue of the original, despite the fact that she has trimmed down the number of characters for the film. The Kill Off moves quickly from ambience to drama, culminating in an explosive finale. Yet the force of the picture relies on the ensemble cast and their verbal barrages, rather than on a mystery plot. Furthermore the decay is visually relentless, thanks to the photography by Declan Quinn and the moody production design by Pamela Woodbridge.

Saturday, January 20 10:00 p.m.
Egyptian Theatre

Monday, January 22 4:00 p.m.
Prospector Square Theatre

Thursday, January 25 1:00 p.m.
Egyptian Theatre

Friday, January 26 7:00 p.m.
Sundance Screening Room

Saturday, January 27 10:00 p.m.
Egyptian Theatre


Screening Details

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