Title: Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
Runtime: 83 minutes
Director: John McNaughton
This is the first time I’ve seen this film from start to finish, and I won’t soon forget it. It’s far from perfect – the acting outside the three leads is questionable at best – but the script is actually smarter than it first appears. This is a raw, violent, grimy independent film that has a cold, dead soul. Though this isn’t “scary” in the traditional sense, it is quite unsettling.
The story is simple enough: Henry is a serial killer. He happens to live with Otis, who also enjoys raping and murdering people. That is not a good combination for the general public. In the time we spend with the two, Otis’ sister, Becky, comes to visit. Becky and Henry take a shine for each other, which makes Otis even weirder than he normally is. It’s really just something you need to see to understand. Disturbing is a great way to describe to the relationship of these three odd individuals, and the acts that they commit.
What’s a bit disappointing, though, is the fact that the true story of Ottis Toole and Henry Lee Lucas is 1000x worse than anything shown in this film. I feel like McNaughton (the director) could have gone further with the facts and delivered an even more powerful movie.
I will admit that I didn’t see the ending coming the way it did, but this screams of a script that had no other way out, and that isn’t a knock on it at all. The film presents the darkest side of the human psyche, and with that comes consequences. Henry is definitely disturbing.
Branden has been a film fan since he was young, roaming the halls of Blockbuster Video, trying to find the grossest, scariest looking VHS covers to rent and watch alone in the basement. It wasn’t until recently, though, that Branden started seeking out the classics of cinema, and began to develop his true passion for the art form. Branden approaches each film with the unique perspective of having studied the art from the inside, having both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in acting. He has been a film critic since 2010, and has previously written for Inside Pulse Movies, We Love Cult, and Diehard Gamefan. His biggest achievement as a film critic, to date, has been founding Cinefessions and turning it from a personal blog to a true film website, housing hundreds of film and television reviews, and dozens of podcasts.
It’s a very strange and disturbing movie, but one that is worth seeing if you want to be shocked and utterly on-edge the whole time. An experience that made me want to take a shower afterwards, I have to say. Good review.
Absolutely agree. Thanks a lot for comment, CM!