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#211- Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

Quick recap: Henry is a serial killer with a heart of gold.

…..That’s pretty much all it’s about, honestly.

Michael Rooker (Henry) looks like a cross between Heath Ledger and Lyle Lovett. Squint a little and you can totally see it.

Michael Rooker (Henry) looks like a cross between Heath Ledger and Lyle Lovett. Squint a little and you can totally see it.

Fun (?) fact: Lots of good trivia on this movie, but my favorite is that the music was mixed in a studio run by a group of Christian rock and roll guys. They weren’t amused when they learned the music was going towards a film so disturbing. IF you listen to the music, though, I don’t see what else it could have gone to besides a horror film.

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My thoughts: According to Netflix and my 1001 movies book, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is one of the ‘most disturbing films of all time.’ Cue eye roll. Of the movies I have seen on this list so far, I would give the title of Most Disturbing to Funny Games because not only did it have gore, it also made the viewer an accomplice by breaking the fourth wall. I wasn’t scared in the least bit by Henry, but I can say I was adequately disturbed. Not overly so, but disturbed nonetheless.

For one thing, Henry is so different than the other serial killers pop culture knows. He doesn’t have a pattern or reason why he kills; he just does. Sometimes he is angry, sometimes it’s for revenge, sometimes it’s for fun and sometimes it’s because he’s had a bad day and what better way to relax than to break a hooker’s neck? There is a romance (and I use that term in the loosest since possible) plot and for awhile, I bought into it, thinking that Henry would settle down once he gets with this girl. NOPE. Some of the deaths were a little on the disturbing side, but the dead bodies didn’t seem all that realistic to me so that was a little underwhelming. Still, it was nice to have a killer that I actually hated for once and didn’t feel any sort of emotional attachment to.

One of the other things that caught my attention with this movie is that it doesn’t have a happy ending. I won’t spoil what happens for once, but it’s definitely not happy. Which I like, because horror movies that end with everything back to normal kind of sucks the fun out of the whole thing. This one wants you to feel as uncomfortable as possible with your surroundings. The director deliberately left out any reference to cops or anything because he wanted the audience to feel like this is a lawless place, where killers are allowed to roam free. Add to that, this movie barely has a plot. Most of the time it’s just Henry meeting someone and then killing them in some way. In the beginning, I was hopeful that someone was going to do something about all of this but by the end I had pretty much accepted my fate and knew that no character was safe.

It's set in Chicago, a town not normally known for having a bunch of murders.

It’s set in Chicago, a town not normally known for having a bunch of murders.

Final review: This was a tough one because although I appreciate what the movie was trying to accomplish, I just didn’t really enjoy it. It was disturbing in all of the wrong ways (incest, for example). 2/5

Up next: HorrorFest!

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