Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

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  •  (4 out of 5 stars)

The infamous and controversial Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) lives up to its name decades later. This gritty serial killer movie was shot on 16mm on a shoestring budget of $110,000. Like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), the low budget of this film only adds to the nauseating horror that it portrays. It's like a well-directed student thesis film gone horribly wrong and twisted. Michael Rooker plays Henry in his first film role and it's no wonder that he would go on to become an outstanding actor in so many movies. He lives with his criminal friend Otis (Tom Towles) and Otis's sister Becky (Tracy Arnold). The rest of the acting is mostly out of a student feature film, yet the deadpan delivery of the sick dialogue works. The characters have the banality and stupidity of people on the fringes of society who you'd think would really kill someone. The details of the small, dingy apartments, run-down automobiles, and tough city streets of Chicago all add to the unease. John McNaughton's straightforward direction and dark, minimal synthesizer score are also effective. In the early going most of the murders are offscreen, and if you find yourself waiting to be disturbed, just wait a little longer. Without spoiling the ending, there is no redemption for the serial killer, as there shouldn't be.

(Summary from Wikipedia)

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