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The Killing Jar
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Killing Jar More at IMDbPro »

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27 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

A Small Town Thriller with a Big Heart

7/10
Author: sorandor from United Kingdom
22 August 2010

When i first saw this movie appear on my local DVD store shelf, i wondered why it never saw light of day at my local cinema.

Michael Madsen and Amber Benson are the main stars here, and they put in a couple of fine performances. Possibly Michael Madsen most similar performance since his infamous role one in Reservoir Dogs. In fact, there is even a "Mr Green" here too! The film is shot entirely in one location (a diner) during one particular night. The diner is home to Noreen, a waitress who although unsatisfied with her job, is the type of small town girl who is happy to just do it. Meanwhile, the patrons comprise of various people who are stopping by on their way through, and we get to know each one a little more in detail as the movie progresses.

The movie flows along at a steady pace, and the director ensures this is maintained throughout the movie. This is a positive thing, as it allows us to enter the small town philosophy a little easier. The music throughout is also excellently chosen, and by the time the titles came up at the end i was ready to rush out and buy the CD.

However, one essential thing to take into account when you watch this movie is, don't take it too seriously. I became a little frustrated at why some parts of the story weren't removed and other parts put in. For example, why out of two strangers who walk into a diner does Noreen warm to one, and alienate the other all based on a radio report? And why doesn't the director utilise the video camera that the 2 kids bring to the diner to add some depth to the plot? But maybe this on purpose, as a red herring for people who look too deep into plot lines.

Putting these small gripes aside, if you enjoy a small town thriller that may have a small budget, but sure has a big heart, fried up with a couple of fine performances then this is a great Saturday night movie.

I certainly enjoyed it, and whilst it wont go down as a classic, i would recommend it for those late night Saturday blues, its intriguing, exciting, but if you're looking for a film that will keep you on the edge of your seat, then this isn't the one for you.

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38 out of 53 people found the following review useful:

A thriller only playing in one location

5/10
Author: playboy69-1 from Spain
21 August 2010

The movie plays in a little coffee-bar only, different people come together. It's an interesting play of tension and violence. The movie is professional done while it's still a rather cheap production (probably the salary for Michael Madsen and the other actors was by far the most expensive thing). Good actors in this movie, good acting by them. It's by far not a brilliant movie, I wouldn't even say it's very good. It's a good movie, an OK movie, that is quite entertaining and let's the time go by fast. You will want to see it through to the end after the first 20 or so minutes at least that's how it was for me. A must for Michael Madsen Fans, and still a possibility for everyone else.

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

A mysterious stranger enters a diner and is accused of murder. He turns the tables and secrets are reveled. Just OK. I say C

5/10
Author: Tony Heck from United States
18 February 2011

When a mysterious stranger (Madsen) enters a diner after news of a killing spree, secrets become revealed. After hearing about a brutal killing, a mysterious stranger comes in to a diner at closing time. The waitress and the six customers begin to think this stranger is the killer. After taking control of the situation the stranger begins to uncover secrets of the hostages. Not everyone is who they seem to be. This is yet another movie with a lot of potential but doesn't keep your attention. There are some pretty intense parts but overall pretty slow moving. It's not terrible but not a great first choice for nightly entertainment. I give it a C.

Would I watch again? - No, this is a movie that doesn't get better with repeated viewings.

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9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Nearly perfect script and stellar acting make this claustrophobic blood fest a minor classic

10/10
Author: bob_meg from United States
4 September 2011

The Killing Jar has one of those scripts that is almost too perfect. It recalls iron-clad thrillers like Ira Levin's "Deathtrap" and David Mamet's "House of Games" with its no-detail-is-too-minor subtleties. And it even brought to mind shades of Mark Medak's "When You Comin' Back Red Ryder?" And then there are the Tarantino influences....

Look, any script that can rarely veer outside of one location for an hour and a half and still keep your attention is doing something right, but film-fest fave Mark Young's The Killing Jar, save for a few bad MINOR character performances (Danny Trejo phoning it in as Danny Trejo is the most obvious), does practically everything right.

It's late one night at a local diner in a no name redneck town, and all the locals are there, killing time. A report comes on the radio about a mass-murder in the next town over. When an anonymous stranger (Michael Madsen) arrives with a surly, stand-offish attitude, they gradually begin to suspect he's the perpetrator.

What follows is an elaborate set of mind games and mental torture that reminded me favorably of "Ryder" in their intimate intensity, interspersed with a lot of sudden violence and gore. I liked how violent this movie was. It drove home the immediacy of the character's peril, fit with the script's over-arching theme, and looked very real...the blood is dark red and there are buckets of it...very similar to how it was used in Tarantino's classic Reservoir Dogs.

That smacks of homage, as does the casting of Michael Madsen, who is playing, for better or worse, Mr. Blonde again. But you know what? I didn't care. The dude is good, and he has that role down pat. What surprised me were the alluring performances by the rest of the cast, most notably Amber Benson (who even contributes the closing song). She plays Noreen, a waitress who's drawn painfully true-to-life. Something in Ms. Benson's facial expressions and delivery really sell you on the goodness of her intentions and she's the badly needed anchor for this film. Harold Perrineau and Kevin Gage also provide solid support within difficult-to-pull-off multi-layered characters.

The Killing Jar keeps you guessing and is ultimately very satisfying. It feels like a very well-written stage play. It deserves your attention, especially if you like character-driven suspense films.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

I'm not all that smart and sophisticated but there's one thing that I can do that you can't.. I Can Count!

7/10
Author: sol from Brooklyn NY USA
12 September 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

***SPOILERS*** The news hit's the people in the roadside diner like a shot out of hell!Four people an entire family was murdered just outside of town and their killer may well be headed their way! With the workers and patrons not knowing quite what to expect in pops this greasy looking trucker Doe, like in the song Doe' Ra' Me', played by a moody and a bit unshaved looking Michael Medsen. Doe for some reason fits the description of the on the loose mass murderer and one of the customers in the diner Local deputy sheriff Lonnie, Lew Temple,tries to ask Doe a few questions about where he was earlier that evening.

This was a big mistake on Lonnie's part as well as the diner owner and cook Jimmy,Danny Jrejo, who refused to serve, because the kitchen was already closed, a hungry Doe an order of stake & potatoes. They were to became the first victims in the movie of this deranged lunatic. We soon find out that Doe is on a mission. A mission to find out who murdered that family of four earlier that evening and bring him to justice! To brutal and deadly justice! And Doe doesn't care how many innocent lives it will take for him to find the killer! Even if it's everyone in the diner who for the most part, with one possible exception, were nowhere near the murder scene!

Effective and utterly shocking thriller with Michale Medsen as Doe at his most brutal and sadistic worst torturing and murdering everyone in the diner until he finds out who the killer is. Doe got tipped off to the killer being in the diner when Mr. Green, Jack Busey, showed up with a suite-case full of cash in payment for the hit job, the family he knocked off, he did for him. The big mistake that Mr. Green made was that he had mistaken Doe for the hit-man that he hired and that soon was to cost him his life. Fully convinced that he's on the right track Doe goes about doing his grizzly and bloody work on everyone in the diner to get whoever murdered those four innocent people to confess and then****Spoiler****instead of murdering him chat with the guy? Doe talks with the now exposed killer about the good old days when the two, Doe in the US Army in Iraq and the killer in the Mafia, killed for county family honor and just for plain entertainment!

***SPOILERS*** With enough blood spilled to fully stock a major city hospital blood-bank the end couldn't have come soon enough for the psycho Doe who just for some reason left the one person whom he didn't feel threatened by alive long enough to do him it. But the biggest surprise in the film is not only who the mysterious killer was but how sideswiped or blown way he got by thinking that he was smarter then the person,the lone survivor in the diner, with the gun pointed at him. If he knew how to count or kept up with the shooting action in the movie he'd have known that it's best for him to be able to keep his big mouth shut and not overplay his hand.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Not too bad

Author: ichocolat from i1chocolat.blogspot.com
27 August 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Let me begin by saying that this film is not your usual fare. It does not follow the usual chronology the other films are usually done.

This film starts with a scene where a few people (5 people to be exact; 3 customers and 2 restaurant workers) having a late night dinner. Then an out-of-towner came in, looking disgruntled and asked where he can use the payphone. The fella sat down afterward for a cup of coffee.

Noreen (played by Amber Benson) soon began to get cosy with the guy (Harold Perrineau) and it bothers the other customer who has heart for her.

Then they were taken aback at the news of a brutal killings of a family in their neighborhood.

To make matters worse, another person came into the restaurant and sent jitters to all of them, as they thought the person is the one responsible with the murders.

One thing led to another, and soon finds out that the person is not their usual customers; this is the person with guns ready to shoot & kill.

Then the question of who Mr.Smith arises, are tension arose as to whom this person could be.

I'd rather not spoiled the whole film, and I'd suggest you to watch it yourself. I personally thought that this film goes fast & turned too slow at times, and the pace may not suit everybody's taste.

I have also not seen other films directed by Mark Young, so my judgment is not clouded by other films he might have made.

An overall good film; not great but certainly watchable.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

The Actors Studio!

7/10
Author: pdmanske from Milwaukee
2 August 2013

Grabastic - I'm a channel flipper and I stopped flipping for this little gem. The movie was all about acting, it reminded me of 12 Angry Men or Night Of The Living Dead as it took place in a small space and was packed with tension and personalities. Bloody movie if you want street cred. You really didn't know who would be shot next or how or why. Micheal Madsen filled his type cast as a deranged thug and the rest of the cast played through acting school chops. Madsen got to ham it up and his experience showed. The writing was well done and tightly edited. Jake Busey as always bought the air of chaos and wildness along and fleshed his character out well. You could really imagine the actors walking around the green room with a script and talking to themselves.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Not bad. Not too great, but not bad.

6/10
Author: richieblac from United States
27 December 2011

Some real bad acting, lots of cheesy lines and situations (especially the ending) - but it's all delivered in a way that you feel like you're watching a small play, and it just manages to let you kick back and see where the story goes. You're simply watching a movie, finding out what happens next. It's a very basic and "by the books" film experience, and it seems to know it.

What really saves it is nearly perfect pacing and editing.

It won't impress you, but it won't drive you nuts. "It's just a movie." That phrase actually fits this film really, really well.

6/10

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Nice character driven small film.

8/10
Author: suite92 from SoCal, USA
20 March 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The film is shot in a diner (the Copal Grill) in a small town called Silver Lake, where the lake has dried up some years back. Jimmie is the manager/owner/cook, Noreen is the waitress on duty during the film, Dixon is the man passing through from a conference to his home in Brooklyn. Lonnie is one of the local cops; Hank sort of lives at the diner. Doe blows in after the group heard the story of a family of four getting murdered in a nearby town. He immediately gets on Noreen's case, and pisses Jimmie off.

Lonnie is one of the dullest tools in the shed, and he does not pick up on Doe being a possible problem. Noreen convinces him to talk to the man. He does. Doe leaves, then comes back with a fully loaded multi-shot shotgun. He kills Lonnie and Jimmie immediately for the insults.

Noreen, John, Hank, and the two teen-aged kids are stuck in the diner with Doe. For a short while, Doe seems to have everything under control, but then Greene walks into the diner. Greene brings money to pay 'Mr. Smith' for the job completed. Greene tries to walk out, but Doe informs him that he is not Smith. Of course, we've already met Smith; we just have to find out who it is.

Greene attempts to bargain with Doe. That does not work. Turns out it was a real estate deal that Greene wanted to complete to avoid vengeance from loan sharks. To cure his problem, Greene hires an enforcer to convince the farmer to sell his land. So the enforcer did the murders of the family that the diner heard about earlier.

Do we discover who the enforcer is? Does anyone escape from Doe?

-----Scores-----

Cinematography: 7/10 Iffy at best, but the lighting in diners does suck.

Sound: 9/10 Pretty good; all the actors were well-miked.

Acting: 9/10 Good. I liked Madsen, Busey, Benson, Perrineau, and Gage quite well. Trejo's part was small, but he was good for the spot.

Screenplay: 8/10 Nicely done.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Insulting our knowledge of the Colt 1911

8/10
Author: Walid Aksoy
17 February 2014

The Actors , the Director, all his assistants, the Props people , any one passing by...should have an idea that the Colt 1911 does not , never ever fire without being cocked ,yet without any hesitation , that 1911 was aimed by three Actors ..un cocked. Oh yes, they all know how many rounds it holds ,but by some miracle it defied the way it is designed. When the Deputy first pulled it out , I thought the Main Actor was not scared because he noticed the deputy did not cock it. but I was shocked when he also gave the gun the same treatment during the rest of that movie. Actors , Directors and Props , read carefully :- Millions of movie goers , do actually know a lot about firearms, and how they function ,try to avoid making them laugh, when you actually want them tensed. Try to obtain proper knowledge , of an item that you rely upon so much on , to bring out drama in your scenes. I am aware that you are all worried about repeating the fatal mistake that happened to Bruce lee's son. but it does not mean , forgetting to cock a colt 1911. PS It is a very good movie. Great Actors.I do not mind seeing it again, but I will look away during those 1911 scenes.

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