Antonio Campos’ second film, Simon Killer, is a electric examination of insanity – or at least peripheral insanity of an apparently sane man. Something like that, anyway. Simon, a recent college graduate specialising in the link between the eye and the brain (this is mentioned a lot), flees to Paris after breaking up with his long-term girlfriend. When he meets Victoria, a local prostitute, Simon sets of a chain of events that shine a light into his psyche, hinting at the monster underneath.
Simon Killer is an interesting film in the sense that it tries to do interesting things with sound and camera – in terms of plot, it’s still pretty cool, but acts as an extension of the ideas explored by Paul Thomas Anderson in his 2002 film Punch-Drunk Love more than it does an original idea. The film’s soundtrack comes almost exclusively when Simon listens to his iPod (he may be a psychopath, but he has damn fine taste in music – LCD Soundsystem, Austra, Spectral Display, Glasser, and more), and the visual flourishes Campos injects into the film (floods of colour overwhelm a frozen frame on numerous occasions) both hint at the troubled mind of the protagonist. But that’s the thing with Simon Killer, there’s a sense that it’s all building up to something. The music doesn’t set a consistent tone (foreboding synths to disco-pop and back again), the visuals are often jarring and, at times, unflinching, and Simon’s actions are progressively more alienating. But why? Well, that’d be telling, but if you ride it out, Simon Killer is an intensely rewarding and affecting film, and one that serves as a perfect counterpoint to the aforementioned Punch-Drunk Love.
- Matt Mansfield