Published on November 2nd, 2017 | by Robert Barry Francos0
Murder Made Easy
Murder Made Easy is a dark, funny movie that feels like a twisted Agatha Christie play in the right ways, as murder is made delicious.
I found it kind of humorous, for a number of reasons, that part of the story in the film sprung from a previous play production of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, in which many of the characters performed together a few years earlier.
The whole film production reads like a play. It is heavy in dialogue, mostly takes place in a single room, and the pacing of the whole thing could easily be mounted on a stage. It also feels very Frank Capra-esque in the way the words are spoken in a quick and light patter. Basically, it’s an old fashioned dining room murder mystery. There are title cards announcing the various acts, and there’s even an intermission (albeit brief), which helps keep track of just where the viewer is in the process.
Did I mention the food yet? There’s plenty of it as we watch course after course being consumed, each one unique and all looking very tempting – and occasionally healthy. But this is a very dark comedy. If this film were chocolate, it would be 90% cacao or more. Of course, that is definitely part of its charm. Like most murder there is double-cross upon double-cross.
In the story, Joan Chandler’s (Jessica Graham) husband Neil has been dead for a year. Not happy with the way he was treated by his friends, she and mutual pal Michael (Christopher Soren Kelly) decide to take matters into their own hands, and make things right by… well, the title is more than just a hint.
Each of the guests, who arrive in serial fashion, are acquaintances or coworkers of Neil, They are an amusing yet annoyingly self-righteous vegan (Emilia Richeson), a self-quoting psycho-babbling passive-aggressive author (Sheila Cutchlow), a not-too-bright wannabe documentary filmmaker (Daniel Ahearn), and a recovering alcoholic professor (Edmund Lupinski). Gifting each of their dinner companions with objects that were Neil’s and reflect just why the widow feels slighted on his behalf, it isn’t long before things get pretty tense.
The cast is really tight with solid professionalism. While there are some standout performances, there is not a weak moment in the acting, from opening scene to close. That being said, it feels like the camera loves Graham and either keeps gravitating to, or lingering on her. Luckily, Graham can handle it, as she says so much with a snide smile, a frown, or a subtle shift in mood. Kelly is the yin to her yang, a ball of kinetic energy to her nuances. They spin around each other like a double helix, boosting each other’s characters.
Little is as it seems; there is a lot of smoke and mirrors, as there should be in this kind of story. The writing is crisp and sharp as a razor, which never takes the easy way out, even by the end. Considering the confined space, the camera does not feel claustrophobic, which is quite the accomplishment in itself.
With the large amount of bodies piling up in corners of the house, there actually is very little blood, and minimal seen violence. For a set piece with a lot of dialog and extremely lengthy shots (i.e., less editing), there is also enough of a high energy level to transfer to the viewer so it doesn’t seem as static as it actually is onscreen.
The only negative I can say about this movie is that I can almost guarantee you’re gonna be hungry, and for something more substantial than fast food. Like this film, which is a fine vintage, quality stands out.
Directed by David Palamaro
No-Money Enterprises / Lock and Key Films
76 minutes, 2017