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Gregory W. Friedle
Piggy Banks tells the story of two charming and brilliant brothers who finance their lifestyle by robbing and murdering pretty much anyone foolish enough to get in the car with them. They learn the business from their sociopath father (Tom Sizemore) who doesn't bother to hide his crimes, or the brutal philosophy which drives it. He tells his sons people are just piggy banks. You need money? Just break one open. Michael is sloppy and reckless he goes about his work with a demented glee, John perhaps even more horrifyingly, understands the misery he inflicts he simply doesn't care. It's just a job. Lock all your doors. Written by
I love it when I see a movie and it surprises me by being totally superior, and different, then what I was expecting. This film, about a young serial killer who is forced to confront the emptiness of his life, is not the clichéd blood fest the DVD cover, and the lame title ("Born Killers"? C'mon ), would have you believe.
But don't get me wrong, because there is blood, murder and horror. The movie starts with two brothers in the prime of their careers as serial killers. Their father (a chilling Tom Sizemore, seen in flashback) taught them that people are "Piggy Banks" to be busted open for the loot. While Michael (a charmingly evil Gabriel Mann) gets off on the creepy sex part of their vocation, John (Jake Muxworthy, reminiscent of Kurt Cobain), the more cold-blooded of the two, just wants the cash.
The brothers part ways, and John goes on an odyssey of self-discovery. What he finds is the enchanting Gertie (Lauren German), who may or may not be his sister. As John experiences deep feelings for another, he is shocked out of his moral abyss like a worm placed in the sun. John, always in control, begins to fall apart. It's as existential a piece of character development as I've seen, and it works.
This film is packaged as a straight up exploitive slasher flick. It's not. There's no doubt that some will be disappointed by the way this film turns into something else. The killers don't crack jokes when taking lives, there isn't a race against the clock, a secret identity doesn't need to be revealed, and most of the killing is in the beginning.
Director Morgan J. Freeman, probably best known for his break out Sundance debut Hurricane Streets, deserves a lot of credit. All the performances are outstanding, and even when the film gets cerebral, I was on the edge of my seat. It's a star turn by Jake Muxworthy, and Freeman isn't afraid to keep the camera on him. It's well paced, well shot (it has a cool bleach by-pass look for the flashbacks) and has locations that somehow evoke a serial killer paradise. This film deserves to be seen on it's own terms, and not as just another exploitive slasher film. Too bad the packaging and title are so deceptive.
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