XL Popcorn – Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 443/1007Title: Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
Director: John McNaughton
Year: 1986
Country: USA

One big benefit of doing a film list as part of my bucket list (other than seeing a wide variety of films) is that I have to watch the whole thing. In some cases I know this will end up being a negative (Satantango I am looking at you) but for some films this can be a real plus point.

Today’s film, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, really exemplifies this. The first 40 minutes did absolutely nothing for me. I was aware of how censored this film was and it really didn’t do much to me in terms of shock value. It’s fair to say that once I got passed the hour mark things really began to ramp up a bit more.

Home invasions, sawing off limbs, a beheading, attempted incest. I’m not saying these are things I particularly WANT to see, but for a film telling the fictionalised tale of a real serial killer… well I can say I was no longer disappointed.

One thing that this film has in its negative pile is how cheap it looks. In many ways it looks like a lot of those made-for-TV movies that depict a criminal figure. The fact that some of the corpses are played by the same actress takes away a bit from the brutality of things.

I guess, when I was watching this I was expected a gory and more shocking film in the vein of In Cold Blood. The fact that In Cold Blood now finds itself amongst my favourite films probably didn’t help things.

It’s another one of those films that makes for a really interesting character study. The leads do really well considering the short shooting time and the low budget. Although I would have liked it if they had kept to the real story where the two criminals were actually lovers – still it was the eightes.

The last half hour really acts as a big payoff so if you start it and get bored, my advice is to make sure that you see it through to the end.

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