Very minor spoilers for Inception and Lost in Translation.
Thank god we’ve come a long way from the era of Passion of the Christ and Dogma. While Killing God, the debut film from writer/director team Caye Casas and Albert Pintó, isn’t unusual in its decision to portray God in physical human form; the decision to make him a foul-mouthed alcoholic dwarf may have turned a few heads back in the Mary Whitehouse era.
But now, in the hedonistic era of 2018, such a portrayal is unlikely to raise an eyebrow from even the most devoted of Christian followers. It’s therefore quite a shame that such an imaginative representation of the Almighty ends up being the only strong aspect of what is overall a rather laboured story.
It’s New Year’s Eve and unhappily married couple, Carlos (Eduardo Antuña) and Ana (Itziar Castro) are at each other’s throats, with Carlos in particular accusing his wife of infidelity. They continue making preparations for dinner when their two guests arrive: Carlos’ brother, the suicidal Santi (David Pareja); and their alcoholic father with a heart condition, Eduardo (Boris Ruiz).
But as the arguments threaten to spin out of control, a strange person interrupts their festivities. A homeless dwarf (Emilio Gavira), who claims that he is God himself, informs them that he plans to destroy the world and only two people will be allowed to survive this apocalypse.
With only a few hours till the dawn breaks, the human foursome must try to come together and decide which two are worthy enough to survive into this new world.
Though a long set-up for a movie isn’t always a negative aspect, there is a real need for some judicious editing in Killing God’s opening act. While the initial introduction of the leading foursome is incontestably swift; the follow-up scenes of character development are so long as to be sleep-inducing.
That said, even with the overabundance of scenes before the main plot kicks in, said scenes are at least funny and entertaining, with some strong acting at their core. Antuña, as the womanising Carlos, does especially well in putting forward some reprehensible views, and yet still comes across as so pathetic that you end up feeling sorry for him.
However, it’s the entry of Gavira as the titular Supreme Being when things start to pick up. His dazzling performance is anything but understated, instead coming across like the rants and raves of an utter lunatic. But his approach makes the midway portion all the more entertaining. Indeed the entire second act ends up being the strongest part of the proceedings, functioning as a debate over human morality in the face of the apocalypse; whilst at the same time mining much hilarity from the fact that said morality is being debated by four people utterly unsuited to such a dialogue.
But that second act strength doesn’t feed into the film’s closing moments. Odd as this may sound, one of the biggest failings of Killing God is that it chooses to end with a perfect bow on top of its story. For a tale that is mostly about the religious debate between a higher power and his creations, it ends up being a rather strange choice to close the story on such a realistic ending. Without going into too much detail, it’s hard not to feel that such a spiritually-based film would have benefited from a little more ambiguity in the vein of Inception or Lost in Translation.
The basic concept of Killing God is well thought-out, seeming at first like an engaging tale of terror with some memorable and comical performances. But with several scenes that are overlong and ultimately meaningless, it’s clear that this story would be much better suited to an extended short or a one-off TV episode.