Office Killer

03/01/2022 06:47

Film: Office Killer

Year: 1997

Director: Cindy Sherman

Writers: Elise MacAdam and Tom Kalin

Starring: Carol Kane, Molly Ringwald and Jeanne Tripplehorn



This was a movie that I had never heard of before. I discovered it when I was looking for horror films that I hadn’t seen that were directed by a woman. What intrigued me the more I investigated this one was that it featured Carol Kane, Molly Ringwald and Jeanne Tripplehorn. Other than that, I didn’t know much about this one aside from that. The synopsis is a mousy office worker accidently kills one of her coworkers, then continues to bump off a few others.

We start this movie with a voice-over narration from Dorine Douglas (Kane). She is talking about Constant Consumer magazine, where she works. We then get a brief introduction to the place as a mail boy delivers different things throughout the office. It is during this that we get introduced to some of our key people. Dorine has worked at this magazine for longer than anyone else there. What we will learn later is that her father was one of the founding editors. There is also Virginia Wingate (Barbara Sukowa) who is the boss. There is Kim Poole (Ringwald) who is having an affair with Gary Michaels (David Thornton). He is one of the lead writers for the magazine.

There is an important thing happening on the day that we get introduced. Norah Reed (Tripplehorn) has been hired by the magazine as it is struggling. Virginia knows how to run it, but she needs to downsize. Norah ran the numbers and she recommends cutting some of the staff to part time. Virginia wants her to break it to the team instead of doing it herself. Dorine is one of our characters that has the news broke to her.

From here, we get to know Dorine more at home. She lives with her mother Carlotta (Alice Drummond). This older woman has limited mobility and relies on her daughter. She also nags her from what we can see. Dorine doesn’t have any friends and she lives for her work. Cutting her to part time is a tough pill to swallow.

Kim isn’t the only one in the office who is seeing a coworker Norah is also dating Daniel Birch (Michael Imperioli). For the company, he handles the computers. Part of the change is to fit everyone who is cut to part time to be able to work from home. Norah is also friends with Kim.

Things all take a turn though when Gary is late on turning in a featured article. This requires him and Dorine to work late. There is an accident that leaves him dead due to electrocution. She has a decision to make. She chooses to not call 911 and clean up what happened. This is just the beginning of Dorine descending into madness. We learn more about her past and her relationship with her father. There could be more to her than anyone around her knows.

That is where I’ll leave my recap. We get an interesting story here, especially because every real job that I’ve had has been in an office. I’ve worked with people that I don’t like. I can say though that I’ve never been bullied like Dorine is. What I will say though is that I’ve had some bosses that are like Virginia in how she treats her employees. Not to the point where I wanted to kill them, but to where I looked for a new job. Dorine is treated poorly by Kim and Gary. It makes sense that once she’s crossed that line, she would do what she does. What is also interesting though, she does go after others that are hurting the magazine. She has a history with it due to her father. I like the idea that she snapped due to all the torment she has dealt with. Another aspect is that she lives for her work, so with the changes being made it causes her to defend it as well.

The character of Dorine that I want to delve a bit deeper in. Now I’ve already said about the office that she works in and the negative effect it has on her. She is dealing with more trauma than that. We get flashes that her father abused her. Carlotta makes a statement that he kept both under his thumb. We also see there could be more that he did to her than verbal. It is subtle, yet effective. Kim is a bully along with Virginia and Gary toward her. Norah seems to be nice toward Dorine, but when you’ve dealt with what she has, it is hard to believe. I think this is built in an interesting way and even though this movie is 25+ years old, this is still an issue we are seeing and dealing with. Seeing the depth of her insanity as this goes on was interesting. I’ll also give credit to the performance by Kane. She did a great job here. Her look is part of it, but I’d also say that her performance brought it to life.

Where I’m going to shift next would be the pacing and tone of the movie. I’ll also incorporate the soundtrack here. I watched the second half of this movie with Jaime. She asked if this was comedy. I didn’t realize it until I was writing this, that is the first genre associated with the movie. I do think this hurts it. It almost feels that the movie was too heavy so to alleviate that, it goes comedy. This isn’t laugh out loud though. It is a subtle, dark comedy if anything. The soundtrack gives that vibe. Jaime pointed that out, so credit to her. I think with the dark things we are seeing, the music being a bit more whimsical works.

I think next, I’ll go to the rest of the acting. I’ve already said that Kane was great. I think that Ringwald works in her role along with Sukowa, Tripplehorn, Imperioli, Thornton and Drummond. They all push Dorine to where she ends up. I will say that it was nice to see Norah and Daniel being nice to her. She’s put up with so much though that she can’t differentiate between who is nice and hurtful toward her. I did like Mike Hodge, Doug Barron, Linda Powell, Albert Macklin and Michelle Hurt along with the rest of the cast to round this movie out.

Then the last things to go into would be the cinematography and the effects. For the former, they do some great things with the framing. How it is shot is well done. Seeing Dorine and what she sets up in her basement was interesting. We get fuzzy focus there to convey that everything we are seeing isn’t necessarily real. Along with this, we get some good effects there as well. There isn’t a lot of blood but seeing the state of bodies was gross. We don’t get to see all the deaths. I’m wondering if part of this is hiding it since they couldn’t make it look real. Regardless though, it was fine.

So then in conclusion here, this movie was interesting. Having worked in an office for as long as I have, I enjoyed that. Issues that you have with co-workers and finally snapping is something that is an interesting concept. I feel bad for the character of Dorine and all that she has put up with. Her transformation as she descends into madness and kills those that have wronged her was good. Kane was great in her performance. I thought the rest of the cast worked to push Dorine to where she ends up. The cinematography and framing were good. We don’t get a lot in the way of effects, but what we do get worked. Other than that, the soundtrack adds a comedic vibe to the movie. I could have done without that, but it does make it easier to take what the movie is conveying. I think that this is an above average movie. It is coming up just short of going higher than that.


My Rating: 7 out of 10