Karla (2006) Poster

(2006)

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3/10
Karla is one sided.
slbarnett-687-38310916 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This movie seemed to try to make the view feel compassion for sorrow for Karla but she showed none to her victims. She and her husband should have been given the death penalty. I don't understand how she could be out of prison and I don't understand how a movie could be made to show any compassion for her. She deserves none! This is another case of a film trying to gain sympathy for the killer and none for the victims or the victim's families. Prepon did an awesome job portraying Karla Holumka. I was ready to feel sorry for her until I read more about her true character. The movie should have shown more of her real self instead of the innocent victim portrayed in the movie Karla. This was a frightening movie because of the truth of it and because of the truth left out of it.
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6/10
Surpringly good acting; toned-down version of sickening events
Fargoisgreatmovie27 January 2006
Paul Bernardo - probably one of the cruellest serial killers that ever existed. Around 50% of the votes cast so far are 1 and this is understandable, as the subject matter in the movie is probably the darkest and most disturbing that any movie could possibly be- and to make matters worse, its all true. There is a relentless hate for this movie and people are going to vote 1 just to try to discourage other from seeing it, to try and teach Hollywood to stay out of producing tragic events, but where were the 1's for other movies profiting off tragedies, like Schindler's List, Titanic or Monster? Before seeing it, I read from others that the acting in the movie was great, I didn't take the comments seriously, but after seeing it, I am totally impressed with Laura Preppon's talent- I never thought of her as a good actor. She IS Karla Homolka, and although she won't win any Oscars for this role, she has undoubtedly impressed many other critics who may have never suspected she had this talent within her. The only major difference between Karla and Laura is that Homolka was a very small woman- 5'2 or so, while Laura is very tall, 5'11. When watching the introducing scene, I had doubts about how good Misha Collins would be, but by the time we reached the first perversion, he turns out to be quite a good actor, although I'd say Preppon definitely gives a better performance. People object to this movie for many reasons, and one is that some believe it's too sympathetic to Karla, but I would disagree. True, it is narrated from real life transcripts that Karla gave to her pscyhiatrist,and many see that as a reason to distrust the movie, but what she tells and what we see are sometimes different and the movie does NOT omit ANY of the evil deeds she committed. However, A LOT of the sadistic things that Paul did were omitted in this brief 81 minute movie- and that is why I called it a 'toned-down' version of the gruesome events, more toned-down that most people would suspect it would be. In this way, the violence is not gratuitous, but there are *surprise!* many cringe-inducing moments. One flaw I see in this movie is the improper allocation of time to various events. The movie covers 90% of the key events, but there was no mention of the videotapes being found, (which completely turned the case upside-down) nor was there any time giving us background information about Bernardo or Holmolka, which we see in other serial killer movies like Monster (we see Aileen as a teenager). I may be wrong, but I think the chronological order between various events may have been shuffled in one case, but probably for editing reasons. I doubt any reviews that IMDb can offer will make a difference in whether one sees it or not, as either you can tolerate watching difficult things or you cannot. However, I agree with CBC's review that is 'an above-average' movie and while being tough to watch, it can also be a tool to reinforce the message that appearances can be deceiving.
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6/10
A difficult film to watch...
Onthethreshold23 October 2007
Being Canadian and the fact this film isn't widely available up here I feel compelled to offer some comment on what many consider a tragic story exploited for financial gain to no end.

Those of us that lived this story back in the early 1990's and the subsequent trial of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka can attest to the degree of disgust many felt at the crimes these two committed. The film is accurate in many respects as to details of the story, but make no mistake that the details were far more sadistic and brutal than what has been portrayed in this movie. At least to those of us that have read the transcripts of the videotapes that Bernardo took of his victims, and one can hardly blame the director from omitting those details or forcing an actor to play such a role out.

My only beef with this movie however is that it does attempt to paint a picture of Karla Homolka being just as much a victim here as Bernardo, and although no one can deny she was under his influence and subject to this violent outbursts, to suggest she had no control over this situation and simply tagged along for the ride is to suggest that she was just as much a victim of Bernardo as the two murder victims. Those versed in this case know much better and the role she may have played in the death of Kristen French (aka Kaitlyn Ross) is something we'll likely never know as there are those that suggest she was directly responsible for killing the second victim.

The acting in this film is nothing notable, but given the nature of the roles played here it's wonder they found anyone to play these two to begin with. Because of the difficult subject matter I'll let the mediocre acting pass because for it to be much better would almost be like saying the actors immersed themselves perhaps a little too much in characters that most would find revolting and if not downright sickening.

In the final analysis, 'Karla' is a film you'll only watch once and personally I don't think this was necessarily ever meant to be a movie for mass consumption either at the theatre or your local videostore. That being said, Canadians should have the right to see this movie for those so inclined vs. having the state tell us what is suitable or unsuitable for our viewing pleasure as there are movies out on the market FAR more disturbing about real life events than this flick could ever hope to be.
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2/10
An Inaccurate and Poorly Produced Film
wolfgangviking2 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Having lived and followed this case in Toronto, I am disappointed with this film which is both inaccurate and dull. What is a film supposed to do? Inform? Entertain? This film does neither; the case of Karla Homolka and her accomplice, Paul Bernardo, is a fascinating series of events that exposed the incompetence of the provincial police and justice system. For years Bernardo raped and killed without coming close to being caught. The only reason he was finally charged for the murders was due to Karla's testimony and that came at the price of a plea bargain that infuriated a normally subdued nation. The film decides to focus instead on the misplaced suggestion that Karla, as an abused spouse, was compelled to participate in the torture and murders. How this can be plausible stretches the imagination considering she appeared to enjoy herself in the videos (entered into evidence) and then continued this behaviour for years and with 3 different girls. There is a reason why no one in Canada would touch this film; the nation sympathizes with the victims' families and the reasons for making this film remain dubious. American Psycho (based on a book that allegedly inspired these acts) is a fictional account that made a social commentary on the yuppie decadence of the 80s with Christian Bale giving a strong performance. This film says nothing of importance on perhaps the most notorious case in that nation's history. As far as entertainment, well, you have to be careful, these are true events and must be handled differently – one must be responsible, otherwise it comes across as simply cheap exploitation. As far as the technical aspects, it is a poorly produced work with lower standards than a regular HBO offering; Director Joel Bender captures nothing of the horror that this home must have been as a place of torture and death day after day. The acting by Laura Prepon is simply uninteresting, if not absent; through the latter part of the film she is almost like a zombie resigned to her life. I want to know what she was thinking when she was in the washroom doing her hair and make up speaking in a friendly manner with the victim that she had just kidnapped and assaulted. But, alas, this scene does not appear in the film. It would have been an interesting character study. A scene from the court transcripts that does make it to the screen is the moment that one of the victims finally defies Bernardo and fights back refusing to acquiesce to his demands. "There are some things worth dying for", she says and then, according to the court testimony, she is murdered. However, the film depicts her as actually retracting her courageous statement. A despicable artistic license that insults the victim. This is a film that should be viewed as a cautionary tale of how not to make films.
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5/10
Disturbed
dajeckyl29 July 2007
I was very disturbed to see some of the comments made about this movie. It was said that "the murder and gratuitous violence scenes were not explicit or even realistic"! They were plenty explicit and realistic, enough that I almost stopped the movie. Also, it has to be understood why Canadians did not support this movie. The victims in this movie were children victims, of a smallish, "quiet calm" community, and they were the children of this community. Imagine if this happened to your next door neighbours child, or YOUR child, and then someone wants to make a movie about it! You would be infuriated! I lived in Welland, Ontario when these people were on the loose. I was 12 years old, and my parents were paranoid nervous wrecks until these people were arrested. The day they were arrested, we did not have any classes, they parked us in front of the TV's to watch the news, and so we would have peace of mind that these evil sickos were off the street, and we were safe from them. They terrorized the communities, even the ones that we have no knowledge of them being in, they were close enough to us, that it was very possible that one of the victims could have been one of my friends, they were just too close to us. So, when you complain that this movie was not real enough, or explicit enough, just remember, it not JUST a movie, it was real life! And what you see in the movie is not even the half of all the horrible things they REALLY did.
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Numbing and pointless ordeal
michael.will21 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
For non-Canuck readers who might not be familiar with this media frenzy of the past decade, Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka have the dubious distinction of being the First Couple of Canadian Crime. Bernardo, a long time serial rapist, and Homolka, an amoral party girl, had a brief courtship and marriage during the early 90s, in the small city of St. Catherines, Ontario. During this time they were responsible for the torture slayings of two teenage girls, Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French, as well as the rape and accidental killing of Homolka's 15-year-old sister, Tammy. After a long and bungled RCMP investigation finally led to their capture, Homolka plea bargained by turning evidence against her by-then estranged husband. Bernardo was given life without parole, and Homolka got off with 12 years for manslaughter, on the theory that her involvement was due to battered wife syndrome, and there was indeed well-documented proof that he had regularly beaten her. Only after the sentencing, however, were home videos of the crimes uncovered, and these revealed that not only Homolka was an enthusiastic participant, but possibly the actual killer, which Bernardo continues to contend from his cell. Her light sentence and subsequent release, last summer, has made her one of the most reviled persons in Canadian history. She's nowadays reportedly living in hiding, somewhere here in Montreal.

"Karla" is a sketchy adaptation of "Invisible Darkness", the true crime bestseller by Stephen Williams, which ran into legal hassles and much public outrage, for revealing court-sealed details of the grisly case, such as play-by-play descriptions of the incriminating videos. That there'd actually be a movie version was way too much for the various decency brigades, and no Canadian talent would dare touch it, so this is a rare example of a Canadian tale made entirely in the States by Americans, rather than the other way around. It shows, especially in the casting and characterizations. While the sequence of events, at least the more lurid ones, is laid out with plodding accuracy, it plays like something overheard, then retold, by someone who wasn't there. There's no feel for regional dialect or cultural idiosyncrasies, or even its time frame of a decade and a half ago. TV's Laura Prepon (no doubt imagining that this would be her "Monster" ticket to the big time)is all wrong as Karla, coming across a big-boned trailer trash hoyden perpetually stunned by her situation, rather than the petite, cunning and creepily girlish sociopath who so captured our mass revulsion. Misha Collins is all psycho-jock swagger and hoodlum snarls, with no hint of the pudgy-cheeked sickly boyish charm of the would-be yuppie next door, with his phony Ken Doll wholesomeness, that the real Bernardo not only socially aspired to, but used as such a clever disguise during his reign of terror.

The sheer ickiness of the real life couple is where "Karla" really misses the mark, in terms of both dramatic insight and black comedy potential. While the murders themselves, which the film wallows in as its main focal point, were indeed sad and terrible, there was a horrid hilarity to the killers and the 80s retro, idealized image they presented to the world. With their matching bleach blonde hair and rabid consumerism, they really thought themselves the perfect upwardly mobile couple, or at least a failed yokel approximation of one. Things like Karla's hideous taste in just about everything, and Paul's talentless aspirations to be the next Vanilla Ice, could've inserted some much needed chilly chuckles into the relentless despair, without detracting from the horrific impact. Also barely dealt with is that pompous, ridiculously expensive wedding of theirs, in which they paraded, the very picture of kitschy bliss as they waved to onlookers, through the streets of Niagara-on-the-Lake in a horse drawn carriage, only to finish the day at a grotesque reception of drunken family dysfunction. This could've surely been the most pivotal of climaxes, but is tossed off as a brief visual footnote. If only the film would've taken its cue from something like the cult classic, "The Honeymoon Killers", and balanced its real life horrors with a sense of their absurdity, which the well-written and extensively researched book was offering up in spades. That it didn't is hardly surprising, though, given all the moral indignation and potential lawsuits the production had to tippy-toe around, so that the finished product comes across as one long and pointless apology that it was even made. Of course the pedestrian direction by Joel Bender, veteran of such stellar titles as "Immortal Combat" and "Warrior Queen", doesn't help. His approach to serious docudrama seems to be showing as much nasty stuff as he can away with, with an earnest solemnity he hopes will camouflage his sleazy fixations. A classic case of flimsy talent trying to over-reach his abilities.

At any rate, I caught opening night of its limited Canadian release, and it appears that all the controversy surrounding this film has done nothing to spark attendance, and word-of-mouth certainly won't, either. Prime time crowd of maybe 50, curiosity seekers who learned absolutely nothing new, and smartsy teens (girls calling out to see if Karla was in the audience, and other girls answering, "Here I am!") looking for bad taste laughs, which it wasn't even inept enough to provide. My guess is that in its country of origin, where it hasn't yet found a distributor, "Karla" will go the route of the rest of Bender's products, bypassing the marquees and heading straight to cable.
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8/10
Karla not a victim...,Narcissistic personality
MarieGabrielle17 July 2009
Disorder is accurately diagnosed by her psychiatrist,well-portrayed by veteran actor Patrick Bauchau.

Laura Prepon is believable and cold as Karla Homolka, who was jailed for killing her sister and conspiring with sexual sadist and psychopath Paul Bernardo. He is odiously portrayed by Misha Collins.

The story itself is horrific,and I believe the writer accurately portrayed Karla as borderline psychotic,yet she has a surface normalcy to society,much the same as Ted Bundy and other psychopaths. She is not a sympathetic character, and Prepon delivers a believable performance.

Overall an interesting study,Misha Collins as Bernard is particularly devoid of conscience and detestable,and it would be impossible to explain why any woman would stay with him for love, unless she was indeed psychotic.
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6/10
At first, it's hard to understand the furor over this film.
innocuous4 April 2007
In most respects, this is a very "modest" film, with only some very brief shots of a naked breast and no other frontal nudity. Even the major violence occurs in a Hitchcockian manner...recognized, but off-camera. (There are several scenes in which Karl is struck by Paul, but they are on par with a typical TV western.) The underlying problem is that this film is very true to the facts as they are known about this case. This apparently disturbs a great many people. No effort is made to justify the actions of Karla and Paul, though the majority of the story is told from the self-serving point of view of Karla herself. We are given no insight into what it might have been in their pasts that would lead them to act in this manner and commit such horrible acts. My reaction to this film, being very familiar with the case itself, is not one of revulsion or horror, but one of great sadness. These were some truly sick people. Be sure to view the extras on the DVD, as they help illuminate what actually happened after the trial and reinforce the fact that the courts and jury did not believe Karla for a moment.
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1/10
Compelety Inaccurate Details in Movie
markcowderoy28 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I generally do not write reviews of movies, but I feel compelled to air my opinions regarding this film. This movie was boycotted by most of the Canadian public and only played on a few theatres in the county, out of respect for the Mahoffy and French families. As an irresponsible Canadian who had the morbid curiosity to view this film, I was appalled not only by the graphic content, but most importantly, the factual inaccuracies throughout this film. This film portrayed Karla Holmolka as a victimized housewife, subjected to chronic spousal abuse from her partner Paul Bernardo. However, it left out many important facts with one example being how she murdered her sister (cut the tendons in her ankles so she could not run away) in order for her husband to repeatedly rape her sister, and laughed about it with her husband. This was all documented in court transcripts and video that they taped during the murders that the film failed to recognize. Karla was no victim in these horrific murders and was a much more willing participant then portrayed, so please understand that if you choose to view this film.
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7/10
Disturbing, And A Real Departure For Prepon.
drownnnsoda12 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
"Karla" centers around a young Canadian couple who meet and very quickly fall in love with each other: Paul Bernardo (Misha Collins) and Karla Homolka (Laura Prepon, of TV's "That '70s Show"). Unfortunately, Paul is mentally unstable, and finds pleasure in raping and sexually abusing women - something Karla wasn't aware of in the beginning. It begins on Christmas Eve when Karla and Paul end up accidentally killing Karla's younger sister while trying to make a sex video. While she is disturbed by the entire thing, she is still desperate for love (which she believes she has truly found), so Karla goes along with her husband's insatiable hunger for sexual violence and power, and takes part in it as well, as he kidnaps young women, makes sex tapes with them, tortures them, and ultimately murders them.

Based on the real-life murders that occurred back in the early '90s, I found this true-crime flick a fairly disturbing film. I had read a little about the real crimes that happened before, finding that Homolka and Bernardo have been labeled Canada's most notorious murderers. While I know the basic details of the case, I'm still not all too familiar with the real Karla's involvement in the murders. In the film she is depicted as an abused woman, weakened by her husband's manipulative and violent personality. In fear of him, she does as he says, even if that means participating in horrific acts. The main reason she is seen as guilty in the murders is because of her "lack of empathy for the victims", and this is clearly shown throughout the film. The problem that I had here though is that I was confused as to how this film was trying to portray her - was it attempting to tell us that Karla was simply an abused, beaten-down person who was coaxed into these crimes? Or was she mentally unstable as well, and participated in the crimes by her own free will? To me it appeared the film was sympathetic towards her, but that's how I interpreted it. Whatever the real events may have consisted of, the storyline revolving around her character is fairly well constructed, whether it is fictionalized in the real Karla's favor or not. Good writing is present, and the story is told from Karla's point of view as she retells the events to a parole officer in hopes of making her way out of prison into the real world.

The acting in the film was surprisingly good. Laura Prepon, who gained her fame playing the friendly red-headed girl-next-door in the television sitcom "That '70s Show", makes a large departure from her comedy roots, in a powerhouse performance as an extremely dark, and obscure character. She plays the character surprisingly well, and anyone who is immune to seeing her as the spunky, good-hearted Donna on "That '70s Show" will be quite surprised with this disturbing performance she delivers. The audience can sympathize with her to a certain extent (which is sometimes almost fully). Again, I am not sure if the real Karla was as innocent as the film portrays her. In the film however, she seems relatively normal, and clearly not as mad as her husband. Her neglect for human life though (and her passive following of her husband) is a sure sign of mental illness. Misha Collins is menacing as well as her abusive and murderous husband - he's a scary guy. The violence in the film is mostly implicated and not shown, but it's just as equally effective - the abuse and torture endured by these innocent girls is awful, and stomach churning when projected on screen. I can't imagine what the real victims endured, and in respect I'd like to send out my condolences to the families of the real victims.

Overall, "Karla" is a disturbing film. Regardless of the real Karla Homolka's innocence or guilt in the actual crimes, this is still a really good crime film that holds itself up well. If you go into see this movie, expect a disturbing and uneasy experience. The story is fairly well told (even if the real facts may be distorted or changed for storytelling purposes), and it is an interesting film to watch, plus there are really good performances to be found. One thing I can say for sure is that it is much better than most of the straight-to-video true crime junk that you can find at your video store. 7/10.
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9/10
Deeply disturbing and a must see.
dom_ray4 October 2006
Anyone interested in true crime, drama, the story of Paul and Karla or just getting the heck scared out of you, should check this movie out. Though the media frenzy the case ensued in Canada wasn't the same in the States, the story of this couple is just like the taglines say, deeply disturbing. My wife and I saw this movie and I was as freaked out as she was. We talked about it for days, and she still checks the locks on the doors at night. This is a great movie, and I think the director did a fantastic job interpreting this story. I would call it entertaining and informative. Laura and Misha should be applauded for there courage in taking on the roles of these truly sick people.
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8/10
Moving and well made
frater_solomon6 September 2006
An 8 only because this movie didn't need to be made. The world doesn't need another serial killer movie, true or not, but I am Canadian and remember this trial well, so I watched this movie (somewhat reluctantly).

In the end I was impressed with Prepon's ability to show two very different and intensely complicated people (the wife consumed by the love she feels for an abusive monster of a husband and the parolee reliving her worst experiences) throughout this film. Collins was equally impressive in portraying the charming guy that everyone loves and then turning into a monster in an instant. In watching this film one can understand why it took such a toll on the actors. Whether this film is true to the actual crimes or not, at the very least it presents a powerful impression of Karla's side of the story.

The film captures just a hint of the terror wrought upon the women Bernardo abused, in particular the girls he and Karla abducted, without resorting to conventional horror movie tactics. Not graphic, but infinitely more disturbing.
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9/10
It's Not a True Story, It's Only Based on a True Story
lindablairfan8 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I first became fascinated by the Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka case when I had to study it in my high school class on Canadian Law in 2005. The Ken and Barbie killers. It was the only part of the whole course that wasn't completely boring. It was also the same year Karla was freed from prison. I watched the French CBC interview she gave the night she was freed (what a stupid move for such a hated woman I would've thought dead by now). I also read almost all the books and watched several documentaries about the case too. I was much more interested in Karla than in Paul. Simply because sadistic serial rapists/killers like Paul, as sad as it is to say, are a dime a dozen. But Karla was unique. She was a young pretty little enigma from our own Canada, who also happened to be a sadistic serial rapist/killer. Some psychiatrists that have evaluated her say she's pure evil, others say she's an innocent victim, and some came out saying she's a complete mystery. I personally think she is a person who happened to have been born without a conscience, like some people are born without limbs or vision or hearing. I think had she never met Paul, she wouldn't have done anything like this in her entire life. But she did. And she has no remorse for what she did, at all. Neither does her family. In Stephen Williams' first book about the case, Invisible Darkness, it's documented that, although her family appear to be nice normal people, they didn't really seem to care about what she had done. They defended her, stuck by her, and her mother, Dorothy, was heard to have said "Well the girls are already dead, so might as well party" at Karla's going away party before she went to prison. My theory is that the whole Homolka family is psychotic.

First time I watched the movie, I didn't like it. I was disappointed that the facts had been twisted the way they were. But the second time I watched it, I understood the whole point of having it be her side of the story. Because there are certain parts we don't know for sure exactly how they happened (the deaths of Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French not being videotaped), there are now three sides to this story: Karla's, Paul's, and the truth. Being told from her lying mouth was the only way they were able to make this movie. That, and also because Karla's compliant victim defense adds another layer of complexity to the story which might make it more interesting for some. She's still crazy, but it's a different kind of crazy you see. Since then, this has become one of my favorite movies. It really is well made and well acted. If it had been received better and not totally slandered by Canada (as a Canadian myself, I say you can't have a problem with this being based on a true story without having a problem with Bonnie and Clyde or Schindler's List), I think there could've been a possibility for Laura Prepon to have maybe even gotten an Oscar Nomination for this role. She probably thought it was going to be her big breakout role in Hollywood. And it could have been, especially after Charlize Theron received critical acclaim and an Academy Award for her portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster. But now she'll be remembered as Donna Pinciotti from That '70s Show, which is what I'm sure she was trying to avoid by taking on such a challenging and dark role. But she played the murderous bitch perfectly, especially during the evaluation scenes between her and her psychiatrist, Dr. Arnold, who served as a proper mediator for her unreliable narration. In a way, she was playing two different characters. Both the Karla who's been reported as having an "indifferent, haughty and irritable" personality, and the compliant victim Karla from her version of the story. The real Karla was obviously not that good an actress.

I've watched this movie with friends who knew nothing at all about the real case and they all liked it even though they thought it was sick and disturbing. But as sick and disturbing as this movie is, it's actually toned down through the movie's editing, as compared to what happened in real life. Almost every time I will watch the scenes of the psychotic rapes, torture, and murders of Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French (renamed in the film out of respect), I will cry. Although, one particular part always makes me laugh for some reason; when Karla mentions Demerol to Dr. Arnold, he asks her if she wants some. She then looks him dead in the eyes with a hateful expression on her face and just calmly says, "No". I don't know why, but that part always cracks me up! This movie has some flaws, as most movies do. For example, there are some minor omissions and a couple of names have been changed due to legal reasons. It's not perfect or a masterpiece by any means. And it doesn't have a moral at the end of the story, other than love makes you crazy. But it is a very good movie that seemed to get a lot of negativity that wasn't necessarily deserved. It is much better than it gets credit for.
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10/10
Intelligent and intriguing
lorenamichael9991 April 2006
Laura Prepon is amazing in this film. I can't believe she hasn't won more awards for it. Karla Homolka is one of the most enigmatic human beings ever to live, and she captures the enigma but somehow gives a kind of internal logic to it. At each step of the way we (the audience) can feel the world the way she saw it at that moment, and even though you don't agree with her choice -- you understand it. And so you see how she went form being "normal" at 18 to a full accomplice of Paul in his rapes and murders.

If you are a follower of True Crime films this is "must" viewing. For anyone else who can hold on for a dark journey, I also recommend it. You will find yourself caught up in the story and thinking about it long after you finish watching it.
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4/10
Even amateurs could have made a better film
juvenile-228 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
If you were expecting some insight into the mind of Canada's most notorious female murderer, don't expect much from this film. This isn't like watching Charlize Theron eerily transform into Aileen Wuornos. Although Laura Prepon does her best, she lacks a proper script, a competent director, and a sufficient budget. After seeing credible news documentaries and that creepy interview Homolka gave to Radio-Canada in the summer of 2005 upon her release, Prepon seems to be playing someone completely different, a victim of circumstance and abuse rather than someone who willingly made some very poor choices and destroyed many lives. Where are the accounts of the real Homolka complaining about her father's grief over the death of her sister Tammy (who died as a result of Homolka's involvement) and the brief return she made shortly after her arrest to her St. Catharine's home wearing a schoolgirl's uniform, when she was more concerned about having the police divvy up her belongings from her husband Paul's than the fact that she was entering the same house where the rapes and murders occurred. By painting an obviously inaccurate portrait of Homolka, Joel Bender discredits his own film. At least in Monster, we see Wuornos' difficulty in escaping her environment, but we also see her responsibility in making some terrible decisions. By softening Homolka, we don't struggle with the public's perception of her as evil because her portrait just seems false.

The look of the film reminds me of a standard '80s television crime drama, which is a little tired, but not unattractive. However, the transitions between scenes appear clumsy. Misha Collins also tries his best as Paul Bernardo, but the script lets him descend too easily and quickly to raving lunatic. Collins' Bernardo screams "player" and "creep" from his first appearance. The real Bernardo is baby-faced and has a blank, innocent stare.

I was warned against seeing this film, so of course, I had to see it. I went in having only read a brief interview with Bender stating that the story would stick to recorded events and that the ultimate verdict regarding Homolka's guilt or innocence would be left up to viewers. Trust me, this film does take a stance and points the finger of blame squarely on Bernardo. Sanctifying Homolka reminds of that episode of "The Simpsons" where Mr. Burns writes his autobiography and paints himself not as Machiavelli's successor but as the world's hero.
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10/10
Karla
a_baron4 February 2015
How many times have you watched a crime film that has a ludicrous plot, or one that is too outrageous to entertain? "Karla" is one such film, but shockingly it is a true story. If you haven't heard of her, Karla Homolka is Canada's most hated woman, and with good reason, for what kind of woman marries a serial rapist, knowingly, after having facilitated his drug-assisted rape of her own sister, who dies as a result? But it gets worse, after that, Homolka helped Bernardo continue his reign of depravity.

As its title suggests, this film is related from her viewpoint, so sees her minimising her role as far as possible, something she could not extend to Tammy's death because of the video evidence. The names of the other two murder victims have been changed, and obviously due to the usual constraints, a lot has been omitted, but this is a brave film.

While it is true that the psychopathic Bernardo beat her severely, only a total douchebag would attempt to portray Homolka as a victim. That or the Attorney General of Ontario, but nuff said. "Karla" was released shortly after she was, the latter being an act that disgusted the Canadian public. The content of this film may disgust you, but don't blame the cast or the people behind it, they have done their craft proud.
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10/10
Complete inaccuracy
In response to mark and his ridiculous rendition of the events that actually took place.. I would just like to inform the public that his comment about "she murdered her sister (cut the tendons in her ankles so she could not run away) in order for her husband to repeatedly rape her sister, and laughed about it with her husband." This is so inaccurate that it made me laugh hysterically!!!! All of this misinformation about the case has been put out there.. and gets passed around because of the ignorance of people making and passing on comments such as these. One more thing I would like to point out.. is that just because I have made this statement by no means makes me a Karla supporter.. I am not... I am an Ontarian who was very much affected by this case... I am also a person who is very well educated on the case of Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo.. and the true events that took place... I have seen this movie.. and other then the time-line being a little misplaced.. the events are however pretty accurate.. with a few things left out.. REF: The doe victims. For those of you interested in learning more.. and the true facts.. I urge you to either pick up a copy of Stephen Williams Invisible Darkness... Nick Prons Lethal Marriage.. or join us in discussion on the forums at EZBoard.. which are fulled with very accurate information.. including transcripts.. court documents... photographs.. access to real footage.. etc...

Best Regards..

SD07
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7/10
Its good for what it is.
Cablebot300020 August 2008
Karla is based on the real life killers Paul Bernado and Karla Homolka. As most serial killer/rapists movies go, its just alright. The director tried to capture the brutality and true nature of the characters, but it only went so far. Misha Collins and Laura Prepon do a pretty good job, but also seemed a little distant to their characters because of the script. However, its still a good effort. I am also glad that it is not as graphic as it could have been. It is pretty harsh, but not over the top or extreme. Overall, while its not the greatest serial/killer rapist movie based on a true story, it tried, and the effort was not too shabby. I rate this 7/10. Rated R for brutal psychotic violence including murder, rape, and spousal abuse,disturbing sexual content and strong language
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8/10
A chilling film, and not as gratuitous as some make it out to be
baumer24 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Paul Bernardo is a monster. There is no other way to look at it. He is sadistic, inhumane, despicable, demented and someone who should be tortured every day of his life for what he did to his victims, the ones we know about and the ones we don't. His sidekick Karla Holmolka, is just as evil. According to her, she was a willing participant in the crimes, but did not kill anyone. That doesn't make her much better of a person, but one can look at her circumstance and at least say that she wasn't quite as cold as he was.

For those who don't know, Paul Bernardo and Karla Holmolka were two beautiful, young Canadians from the Niagara Falls area who were convicted of raping, torturing and dismembering two of their three victims in the early 90's. Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy are the two young high school girls that they kidnapped and dehumanized and then Tammy Holmolka was Karla's little sister who was drugged and then raped and then died of an apparent overdose. This story gripped Ontario and the rest of Canada for months in the early part of the 1990's. Paul Bernardo also became known as the Scarborough rapist and was convicted of some of those crimes as well. Holmolka finally turned on Bernardo when he beat her one too many times and she cut herself a nice little deal to serve only twelve years for her part of the crime. That is the Bernardo/Holmolka case in a nutshell.

Here in Canada, this film has been protested and considered blasphemous towards the memories of French and Mahaffy. While I agree that it must be difficult for the families to relive the memories, I have to say that I believe in freedom of speech and that this film is important in it's own right. It is a sanitized but accurate retelling of the story that shocked Canadians and others around the world that followed it. I have followed the case with great interest since it happened and to see it on big screen was not only disturbing, it was like reliving a nightmare all over again. Does that mean it should be banned because the families don't want it on screen? The answer to that is a resounding NO!

The strength of the film is the performance by Laura Prepon as Karla Holmolka. She seems to embody what Holmolka could have been like. She is attractive and evil all rolled into a salacious yet deviously disgusting débutante. The weakness of the film is that this is told from Holmolka's point of view. She begins to tell her story to the prison psychiatrist and of course what we get is her recollection of what happened. Is this the truth or is it just a fabrication to protect her already destroyed reputation? I look at it as being a 100% and unequivocal lie and a unforgivable plea for forgiveness. Holmolka a victim here? Hardly to the extent that she perpetuates herself to be. The evidence dictates that some of the crimes against the victims were crimes of jealousy, such as hair being cut off and so on. This was premeditated, psychosomatic, disturbing and most of all violent.

I guess I shouldn't be here to digress into the case, this is after all a movie review, but it is hard to review the film without a passionate response to memories of the past.

The film makers do a very commendable job of not going into soft core kiddie porn by keeping the killings off screen and the rapes to the youngsters also off screen. I give them full marks for not showing what truly happened as the Bernardo you see on screen is monster enough without showing what he truly did (google his name and his true crimes and actions will surface).

I am glad a film that tells this story is out there. Like we say about Remembrance Day, Lest We Forget. I know these crimes will never be forgotten here in Canada, but now we have a film that shows us that monsters are not just in fantasy and horror films, they live right next door to you and you might just say hi to them every day. And because this is a landmark case in Canadian judicial history, a film like this doesn't come across as sensational, it comes across as necessary.

8/10
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10/10
A notorious crime case in Canada is filmed and released in Canada despite the Canaduan opposition
pamav20 January 2006
Of all the films I've seen on true crimes and serial killings, this one is one of the best. Not only does it tell the story of a sexually demented couple who embark on a course that will lead to accidental tragedy and then deliberate sexual torture and death, but there is also a very good psychological profile of the young couple, Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka. The couple are well known in Canada where Paul Bernardo is serving a life sentence in prison and his accomplice, Karla has been released last summer after serving 12 years in prison. The film tells the story so well, depicting the all of the events that lead to the couple on their destructive course.

The actors were really quite good...I recognized Laura Prepon. The actor playing Paul Bernardo, I haven't seen before...but he was extremely impressively in a very difficult role. The direction and editing was top notch. Much care ands sensitivity has been given to this production.

I recommend this film to everyone and especially the Canadians who might have resisted the idea of seeing the film.
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10/10
A rational and intelligent portrayal of an unexplainable crime
vivisky223 January 2006
I didn't know what to expect. These crimes were committed by some horrible people who got what they deserved. Maybe Karla HOmolka and Paul Bernardo were a beautiful couple, but they were twisted and sick.

I think this film really portrays them for what they are. THere is nothing glossed over. It seems to be as realistic as can be without showing scenes that might hurt the victims parents. Very sad and gruesome.

The film tries to analyze the reasons that these people were so nuts. And I think it does a good job. I've seen lots of films where you don't know why, but this one tells us. I was riveted to my seat waiting to see what would happen, even though I know what happened. Everyone knows the story.

I congratulate the writers, director and producer for a job well done.
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10/10
Very compelling
artsoul20 January 2006
this is a film that has exceptional acting. THe story tells us thru the activities of the young couple what made these deviants click. WHen I saw it, I couldn't believe how insightful and meaningful it was for a story about serial killers. There is NO gratuitous violence. Instead we see a very intelligent picture of this sick couple. There is a lot to learn from the film makers. As of today there has been a tremendous amount of publicity and much resistance. I don't see why. After seeing the film I think all of that is ridiculous. THis is a true life event...it happened and it should be filmed. I heartily applaud those who have bucked the system in Canada to get this film out there.
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9/10
Tough Viewing - Great Acting
AnnHolway3605 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
"Karla" asks – but does not answer - questions posed by at least 4 authors in their true-crime tomes about this case. Is Homolka a murderer? When Bernardo started bringing his kidnapped victims home, did her pleasure stem from relief at having other poor women to take his abuse – or was it of a more sinister nature?

Laura Prepon made a brave choice in this role and nails conflicting emotions of selfishness, remoteness and fear. Misha Collins is chilling and, in fairness, has an easier job in portraying Bernardo for what he was – a savage, nocturnal, misogynistic beast. Watch the scene where he goes berserk at his wife, screaming at her to get out of "his" house before turning on a dime and stopping her cold with a "Princess, wait," when he realizes she actually intends to do as he said and leave.

I would not wish a living nightmare like Bernardo on any woman, even his wife, but one has to wonder what Homolka THOUGHT would happen when she learned his true nature. When her fiancé admits that he "wants" her 15 year-old sister, her question is not "And how much of a running start do you want before I tell my father that?", but "Are you gonna marry me?" The movie finds its strength in the small details that drive home the heartlessness of these people – not that we needed reminding. Witness Bernardo whistling "Deck the Halls" while he fixes his future baby sister-in-law a drugged screwdriver and then stirs it with a candy cane. Witness the way he enters the house and blithely calls out "Hey, babe, I'm home," the night after her threw her down a set of stairs into the basement and beat the stuffing out of her.

Witness the way Karla reminds a victim to "smile for the camera" and taps her on the nose before retreating and letting Bernardo torment her. I concur with the analytic findings shown at the end of the movie that there is a "moral vacuity…an absence of empathy" to her.

Watching "Karla", I was also struck by the similarities between Bernardo and Ted Bundy – manipulative, apparently normal, avaricious, materialistic fiends. They both had a wife/girlfriend dangling on a string, and both started their life of crime as Peeping Toms with petty scams/theft before descending into violence. Both were also tormented by their own illegitimacy, which was kept secret from them by their mothers. "Karla" doesn't mention this implicitly, but watch for Bernardo's reaction when his 2nd victim calls him a b*****d.

Please be aware – the violence in this film is not (IMHO) exploitative but is very graphic and, as in "Heavenly Creatures", made more sickening by the fact that it actually happened. I got dizzy and had to close my eyes on a shot of cardboard boxes - those who have seen the film will understand why.

I don't pretend to have insight into the nature or depth of Homolka's guilt, but one thing is for sure - through their cruelty and depravity, this couple deprived the world of (at least) 3 very special girls. All my respect and sympathy goes out to the families and loved ones of all their victims, both those who are and are no longer with us.
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10/10
Disturbing but important to see ...
brasc20 January 2006
... I found this to be a compelling cautionary tale about the moral climate of out times. The portraits of psychopathy and sociopathic behavior given us by Prepon and Collins provide an insight into the dangers of our modern values. These portraits serve as a warning about the various moral slippery slopes we confront daily. It is not to be considered just as entertainment, but rather a barometer by which we can measure our own states of sanity or depravity.

The movie obviously suffers from budgetary limitations but very often these are the very films which do not suffer from limitations of conscience. "Karla" most definitely has a conscience. Without making moral claims it guides us through the examination of conscience and battle with self deception of character that "there but for the grace of God" too many of us could all too easily become.

The film is an indictment of the poverty of healthy values of the society we have all created for ourselves.
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10/10
Very Good
maggymay10113 April 2006
Couldn't be better...this is a dynamic and well made movie. The acting was good and the production very well done.

I think the filmmakers took time to make this a very sensitive portrayal of a rough episode in Canadian history.

Two young criminals...one was actually a long time rapist...meet and develop a kinky relationship right away. Karla Homolka, 18yrs old, will do anything for Paul Bernardo, 21 years old. This liaison eventually leads to some sad situations where the couple commit some horrific crimes and are in complete denial about it.

The amazing part of the story is that the couple are young, beautiful and healthy.....and are complete psychopaths.

I think the film is very well balanced in presenting the true story of what happened in this cozy 'burb of Toronto.
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