“The Super” is a gritty independent serial killer shocker from Writers/Directors Evan Makrogiannis and Brian Weaver. The story follows George, a Vietnam vet who is the superintendent of an apartment building in the New York City Borough of Queens. George doesn’t have much anymore. Occasional nights at the bar with the younger brother of one of his friends from the war, interaction with the colorful tenants of his apartment building, and surrealistic conversations with his wife and kid are what fills most of his days. A young couple have just moved into the building, and George appears to be going out of his way to accommodate them. So much so that it has begun to make them uncomfortable. A night of drinking that results in a brutal bar fight teaches us that George has some issues he’s dealing with, feelings of rage and abandonment are beginning to spiral out of control, and causing violent outbreaks that generally result in someone getting hurt, or worse. When George learns that one of his tenants has murdered her neighbor’s cat, he decides to respond to her act in kind. With the help of one of his trouble tenants, Olga, played pitch-perfect by Manoush, George does his best to cover his tracks, and go on about his day to day activities.
Generally with any film, it takes me a while to become fully immersed. “The Super” grabbed my attention with the intro, and then secured it for the duration once the title card was shown. The market has been saturated with films that pay homage to exploitation, but most of them do it in such an obvious way that it’s obscene, and in some cases, even insults the viewer’s intelligence. After all, a shitty movie with digitally enhanced film blemishes is still a shitty movie. This is not that type of experience. If I didn’t know better, and I just happened across this film on a shelf somewhere, I would be convinced that it was released in 1984 at the latest. Not to say that it’s a primitive piece of cinema, but it just captures the essence of that era of film so competently, and without gimmick.
During the ’70s, ’80s, and perhaps even a very early portion of the ’90s, movies that were filmed on location in New York City had a flavor of their own. Films like “Maniac”, “C.H.U.D.”, “Taxi Driver”, “Mean Streets” etc. displayed the city as a living, breathing character of it’s own. So gritty and dreary, yet so fascinating. “The Super” replicates that oldschool New York City horror flavor like no other film has done for decades. Though most of the film takes place in the apartment building, you can still very much sense the presence of the city it’s self. Ominous shots of the late night skyline help to set an eerie atmospheric tone that is sure to spark nostalgic memories of films past in any seasoned genre fan.
The character of George is enthralling. Demetri Kallas portrays in a stark performance, a man well over the edge, and we follow him on his journey into madness. Though George is performing, and enjoying terrible acts, it’s still easy to sympathize with his pain. The Vietnam war left a generation of men scarred, physically, and mentally. When George reminisces back to the high points of his life, he associates that to some of the terrible things that he had done during the war. It appears that when George is doing some of the terrible things he does to the tenants of his building, it’s somewhat recapturing the memories that he holds so close to his heart. If everything you’ve ever known and loved has materialized while you were surrounded by violence, violence would be the only thing that brings you comfort. Unless you are a shining example of perfect mental health, you should find yourself at least a little bit, relating to what George is going through.
“The Super” is depraved in it’s violent content. The special effects are great, but it’s not the type of film that focuses on mounds of gory imagery in order to provoke a response. The film gets wet when it needs to, but doesn’t relish in it to the point of becoming absurd. The kills are brutal, and diverse in style. George and Olga compliment each of their depravities, bringing different styles of murder to the table. When they are in their element, and working in unison, I wouldn’t want to be the one strapped to the chair.
The casting director did an excellent job putting together the group of faces that help the story to unfold. The acting is phenomenal across the board, which is something you don’t always get with an indie flick like this. Most notable though, is Demetri Kallas as George, Manoush as Olga, and Lynn Lowry as George’s wife, Maureen. Lynn is no stranger to the genre, having starred in some cult classics such as George Romero’s “The Crazies” as well as it’s 2010 remake. Lynn also starred in the classic 1982 were-cat film “Cat People”. Lynn’s performance as Maureen is heartbreaking. You can see the pain in her eyes every time she’s on screen.
“The Super” is a film made by fans of the genre, for fans of the genre. It makes no bones about from where it draws it’s influence. This is the perfect example of how to create film that pays homage to an era of film, without self-awareness. Constantly reminding your viewer that your intentions were to exploit their fondest memories of the films of yesterday is counterproductive. While it may be enjoyable at first, to realize that a filmmaker may share your taste in cinema, it fails to create the experience that you were aiming for. “The Super” skips past the bullshit, and while it’s a unique experience, especially by today’s standards, it still gives you that warm, familiar feeling inside, like your favorite blanket, or the cool side of the pillow. If you came to realize your taste in horror through dingy dollar theaters, and big-box VHS, then this is a film you must see.