In today’s world, job stability is a fickle component in the economy. Legitimate, prepared, experienced workers are being laid off by companies of all sizes due to financial stresses that call for cuts in the chain of command. Nearly no one is safe, not even middle aged men with families to support.
But how do we handle this tragic disruption in our daily lives? What are we to do with these feelings of failure after such an abrupt dismissal? If you’re Kurt Wendell, then you plan a quiet trip to the countryside, where you can privately murder your entire family. Of course, this plan cannot be made apparent immediately, or it would be too easy for your kin to try to escape. So, how do you confront this problem? Simply omit your sudden unemployment, tell your kids and wife that you’re in the mood for a spontaneous trip, and then cook all of their cell phones in a frying pan on the stove.
AXED takes a fear that we all share, exaggerates it, and turns it into a fantastical, bleak tale of an employee suddenly released by his company. What’s even more creative about this process is the idea that Kurt was on the brink of insanity before his firing, and the unexpected change in his schedule pushed him over the edge. Introducing this idea brings up the question of how many people in the workforce today are at the end of their rope, and how much their job dictates their behavior. Not to mention, all of the people with proper chemical balances in their brains that become unraveled when they no longer have a way to support themselves or their families.
This is a very competent film that could be outstanding with a few changes. First of all, Jay, Kurt’s son, should be more dynamic. He’s shy and impotent at the beginning of the story, and remains the same aloof coward throughout the entire tale, despite the repugnant events that he’s enduring. Horror is about taking ordinary people, putting them in grave situations, and watching them struggle to morph into the person who survives the night. Jay watches his father murder people, then battles the bully himself, and yet, undergoes no real changes. Watching him become a strong, slightly crazed survivor by the end of the feature would have been much more satisfying, realistic, and in the true spirit of the horror nature.
The final two minutes of the movie should have been axed. At first, it appeared that the Wendell family was heading down a darker path. Then, just as it seemed that daddy dearest would successfully carry out his morbid fantasy without a hitch, plans changed, and a slightly lighter conclusion prevailed. It’s confusing why so many horror directors are afraid to do such dark endings when they’re already dealing with an ominous subject, especially because some of the most memorable films have ended harshly, without anyone surviving.
Despite its problems, Axed provides some truly unnerving moments that help to override the flaws. Jonathan Hansler gives a solid performance as Kurt, the psychopath with a plan so precise and detailed that he is able to pick the exact time that his vision ends. Director Ryan Lee Driscoll created an uncomfortable atmosphere that deserves notice. His potential is significantly visible in this movie, confirming that his next will be even better.
AXED is now available via DVD/VOD via Fangoria Presents.