The graphic, and completely unrated, sex is mere foreplay for the violence in rising star Brady Corbet’s twisted turn as a killer-in-the-making.
Imagine if you happened to spend a month on vacation with Ted Bundy before he became an infamous serial sex-murderer. That’s the sick-to-your-stomach feeling I got watching the brilliant young actor Brady Corbet, 24, as the title character at the April 2 New York premiere of the new IFC Films’ thriller, Simon Killer.
Brady’s Simon is an apparently heartsick youth shipped off for a post-grad European walkabout after a rough breakup. It’s not long before his wandering leads him headlong into a Paris brothel and a sexually deviant affair with a prostitute whom he manipulates into a scheme to blackmail Johns for cash.
What is so gripping about Simon Killer is the slow reveal of this seemingly ordinary young man’s dark nature. Director Antonio Campos, in a script co-written by Brady (a triple threat who also moonlights as a director), skillfully builds tension in every passing scene as we begin to realize Simon is completely unbound by any semblance of conscience. The pleasure of the film is as twisted as the plot itself: It puts a festering pit in your stomach as you anxiously await the inevitable violence promised by the title.
Beyond the suspense, sex, and jarring but catchy soundtrack accompanying the beyond X-rated visuals, is a painfully honest-to-life portrait of a sociopath - particularly for anyone who has known a person with absolutely no moral tether. As Brady told me at the premeiere’s after party in the darkened recesses of the Jane Ballroom, after we all loosened up a bit on SVEDKA vodka:
“This is a coming of age story of a sociopath. Simon isn’t a fully formed monster, or anything else for that matter.”
Unlike ordinary Hollywood profiles of evil minds, Corbet’s character isn’t a stone faced, glassy eyed menace, deftly manipulating victims and then taking what he wants with calculated precision. Simon is a mere nascent pup of a psycho, in the awkward process of self discovery: he’s cowardly, self pitying, fragile, wounded, and almost completely rudderless other than his need to mask his emptiness by conning women.
All this points to something poignantly bleak about the roughly 2 percent among us who could medically qualify as lacking a conscience: It’s not that sociopaths like Simon are without feelings – they are only without feelings for others. Simon Killer does a riveting job of unmasking the pathetic, neurotic and self deceiving core of a person whose only ambition is the compulsive need for perverse self gratification left by the vacuum of true sentiment for others.
Look for Simon Killer opening nationwide April 12.