King of the Ants review by Matt Fuerst
Sean Crawley (Chris McKenna) is also a pretty laid back and easygoing guy. A young guy in sunny California, Sean is eecking out a living as a house painter though it's obvious he isn't really cutting the mustard. An electrician, Duke (George Wendt) shows up at a house Sean is working at and befriends Sean. After a feeling out process Duke invites Sean over to meet his boss, Ray Matthews (Daniel "The Fat One" Baldwin). Ray asks Sean how flexible he would be willing to be when it comes to making a buck. Sean agrees to trail an account for Ray. We're not sure why Ray wants the accountant followed, but it's obvious Ray is caught up in some bad business and is using Sean to gather some intelligence. Sean is again consistently mediocre at his job, barely keeping up with the accountant and being pretty obvious about his intents. Sean begins tailing the accountant, and mixing business with pleasure manages to fall in love with the accountant's wife, Susan (the hotty Kari Wuhrer).
Pressure starts to mount on Ray and his "business" and he appears at Sean's drunk one night. Ray proposes that Sean kill the accountant to cover up a scandal that Ray is involved in. Sean has been bouncing through life this long, and isn't one to turn down money, so he agrees. Sean does the deed, but when he shows up payment Duke and Ray encourage him to leave town or end up like the accountant. Sean drops a bomb that he stole incriminating information from the accountant, so Ray had best pay him or else it would get leaked. Ray knows he can't kill Sean, he can't just let him go either, so he decides to cripple him. Sean is locked into a shed in the middle of the desert and daily Ray and his crew show up to club Sean in the head with a golf club until Sean has lost his mind. This process continues for weeks as Sean loses his grip on reality.
Sean finally snaps and realizes what he has been placed on earth to do. He was places on earth to kill people, his fellow ants. Sean escapes his captivity, and begins planning a perfect life. His ideal perfect life is marrying Susan, the dead accountants wife and killing off Ray and his entire crew. Hilarity and darkness ensues.
Yeah, there's a lot of marvelous unpleasantness in this movie. Sean murders innocents (accountant) and guilty in similar brutal manners. He eventually loses all consciousness of his actions and becomes a cold, calculated killer. He proceeds to start a relationship with Susan without any feeling of remorse or wrong, he wants her so he pursues her until he has her. The scenes in the shed with the golf club are wonderfully brutal. The makeup job is excellent as we see Sean just go completely bonkers. By day 2 Sean is losing his mind and has already lost control of his bodily functions. Infections set in and swelling around his eyes forces them shut. Sean gives in to the pain and eventually helps Ray as much as possible with his own torture. Seeing this movie made me wonder, is the Sean archetype character our new anti-hero? Between Sean and Tyler Durden for example, you've got examples of some pretty pissed off people.
At the end of the film, I was left with a question: Does Sean decide to become a killer because of all the brain damage he received, or was that just the incident that sparked the "true Sean"? If you want to pause a minute, this really is a reflection on our society itself, and a question that can be asked on a much grander scale. In our society, are people that kill do so because they simply make a choice to kill, or is there something just wrong (chemically, biologically) that allows them to kill? Not many are as cold and calm about their decisions as Sean is about his, but I think your answer about Sean could reflect upon your question about killers in society in general. I tend to think that Sean was a killer even before the incident, heck he did kill the accountant before getting the snot beat out of him (albeit more incompetently).
King of the Ants is directed by Stuart Gordon, a long time Fuersty favorite, from a novel by Charlie Higson. In the DVD Featurette Mr. Gordon talks about his love of the novel and screenplay but immediately declared it "unfilmable". The truth is it wasn't "unfilmable" but more "unmarketable" since it is just one dark and twisted tale. But the stars aligned and an awesome cast came together to make it all possible (great performances from the main players above, McKenna, hotty Wuhrer, Baldwin and Cheer's Wendt). Gordon directed Fuersty favs Re-Animator, Robot Jox and Fortress amongst others so I was predisposed to be intrigued by his flick but I didn't particularly care for his previous film Dagon (an HP Lovecraft adaptation, I liked all the non-HP Lovecraft elements of it). Included on the DVD is a directors and writers commentary, along with a nifty featurette on the making of the film.
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