Directed by: Gerard Johnson
Since the beginning of time, human beings have killed other human beings. Some do it for patriotism, some for God, and others for money or power or women. The reasons for taking the life of another human being are vast and complex and terrifying. But none are quite as terrifying as people who murder for seemingly no reason at all.
Gerard Johnson presents us with this particular brand of domestic horror in “Tony”, a film about a London based serial killer. Too many times in film history, I feel serial killers are portrayed as the rich suave sociopaths like Pat Bateman in the legendary “American Pyscho”, or the deranged lunatic like the Joker in “The Dark Night”. They are violent, commanding men, complete out of touch with the real world while committing atrocity after atrocity to feed their blood lust and desire for anarchy. Tony is not one of those killers.
We are introduced to our anti-hero as a small, pathetic man who lives in a rundown London slum. He has been unemployed for 20 years, and spends his time watching 80s action films in his dirty apartment. He has no friends or family. He looks like the kind of man that would be arrested for kiddie porn. Tony, despite being so reclusive, frequents both female prostitutes and gay bars, apparently for attention. This all makes him seem that much more pathetic, the chronic loser alone in his small shithole eating microwave dinners. Oh yes, he also brutally murders those who would seek to push him around. Drug dealers, aggressive gay men, and others all end up on Tony’s dead list. He doesn’t appear to gain excitement or sexual gratification from such murders; instead it merely seems that at some point in his shitty life he figured out that murdering someone was the quickest way to eradicate a problem. He chops up the bodies in his sink and disposes of them in the dirty river nearby, after carefully wrapping the parts neatly in newspaper and a plastic sack, much like a deranged butcher.
If you are looking for a good crime film, or a film about a menacing pyscho: this is not it. We are offered no explanation for Tony’s behavior. There is no wily old detective on his trail. By the end of the film, things are not better or worse, they just ARE. Several times throughout the film, I forgot it was a movie, and more seemed like I was looking through a window at a real life person in London just eating crap food and murdering assholes. It is raw, and honest, and cold. I think that the matter-of-fact manner in which Gerard Johnson portrays his anti-hero makes him a sympathetic character. Is Tony really a bad guy? Did he really deserve scorn? Or was he an unfortunate loser trapped in a cycle of monotony and necessary violence? There is an almost touching seen when we see Tony awake in his dirty bed lying next to a corpse from the night before. He cheerfully greets the cadaver good morning, and asks if he would like a cup of tea. Is this the behavior of a menace to society, or a pathetic fuck up with no way to interact with the human beings around him? When people are nice to Tony, he is polite and distant, and they live. When people are mean to Tony, he is polite and distant, and they die. Simple as that. By the end of the film, I was rooting for Tony, and I feel most others will feel the same way.
This was an extremely simple film, shot on limited budget, with limited music and no actors I recognized. Peter Ferdinando does a fantastic job of portraying our star, chilling and mesmerizing. This is a superb film, and the best serial killer film I have seen since “American Pyscho”, and while I don’t think Tony will ever be as popular as Patrick Bateman, he certainly deserves his place among terrifying movie killers. And all because he looks just like a guy any one of us would know.
– Adam Schirling