Serial killers are, let’s face it, two-a-penny when it comes to cinematic outings.

Whether it be whodunits, masked slashers or straight-up crazies, the genre has pretty much been done to death – if you excuse the pun.

No don’t get me wrong, I’ll still happily sit through serial killer fare, but the only flicks that register much with me now are the sort that at least take some risks – say Adam Wingard’s genre-bending A Horrible Way To Die for example.

Fitting neatly into that category also is Profile Of A Killer, a film that enjoys offering up all the usual trappings of the genre, only to toss them away in disgust and opt for something a bit edgier.

Written and directed by Caspian Tredwell-Owen, who merely has writing credits on The Island and 2003’s Beyond Borders on his resume, this effort is far from perfect – there are definite issues with pacing – but more than makes up for it in enthusiasm and intrigue.

For starters, there is no mystery as to who the killer is, as we are introduced to them very early on in the shape of teenager David (an excellent Joey Pollari).

killerDavid has been leaving a trail of carved up corpses along Highway 61, baffling the police and FBI with his skills and canniness.

In fact, so desperate are the police that they coax semi-retired serial killer profiler Saul Aitken (Gabriele Angieri) back into the game, hoping his smarts will offer them some sort of insight.

But things take a turn for the weird (and excellent) when David decides to scupper those plans by kidnapping Aitken himself, carting the seer off to a secluded location.

From there we move on to a memorable battle of wits and wills, as David offers Saul the chance to stop him killing again – if he profiles the killer and is able to guess the identities of his future victims.

While all this is going on, the FBI, led by hard-nosed Special Agent Rachel Cade (Emily Fradenburgh), are scuttling from place to place, trying to connect the dots and put an end to this carnage.

Now that may all sound pretty fast-paced, and the truth is for the first half-hour or so, and the slam-bang finale, it really is.

But for some reason the film grinds to a halt in a flabby mid-section, becoming very talky and forgetting the thrill factor.

There is still plenty to admire in those scenes, with Pollari and Angieri going at it to-and-fro in a number of sequences that come across as more stage play than feature film.

What helps are the performances of the two, with Pollari making an unusual villain (early on he proudly states he had a good childhood, didn’t wet the bed, never harmed animals or any of the other serial killer clichés) and Angieri’s profiler offering up a nice dollop of empathy and sympathy to go with the fear and disgust.

If anything the weak link is Fradenburgh’s Cade – not for the performance so much, but for the way her character has been written as a humourless, job-obsessed robot – a hyped-up version of Clarice Starling if you will.

I’m not for one second suggesting an FBI Special Agent should be portrayed as a wisecracking pun-merchant (that would be just crass), but adding a layer of warmth would have done wonders.

Tredwell-Owen’s direction in the main gets a big thumbs-up, with plenty of eye-catching barren shots of snow-bound locations, and he also needs to be commended for coaxing the stirring performances from both Pollari and Angieri.

Overall Profile Of A Killer offers up something a bit different, positioning itself squarely in the cutting edge category of a very well-worn genre.

It’s just a shame that with, say 20 minutes sliced from the mid-section, this could have been an excellent film, rather than a good one.

VERDICT: [rating=3]

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.