New Latvian director Aik Karapetian provides a refreshing perspective to a slasher genre that was dying from one-dimensional concepts. There is the usual blood to scare the thrill-seekers but it’s delivered with a social commentary flavour that’s intelligently constructed, chillingly effective and inquisitively crafted.
When 200 orange-jacketed employees lose their jobs at a seaport at the hands of an industrial mogul, one unnamed sacrifice doesn’t take it with a pinch of salt and makes his bitter feelings clear by brutally murdering the mogul in his mansion. With the old man out of sight, the murderer is seemingly able to enjoy the freedom and luxury of being at the top of the social ladder. Classical music from the likes of Lakmé’s The Flower Duet symbolises this royal life – the just reward that he feels he and other mistreated people are warranted. He wears the mogul’s clothes, plays his piano, watches his TV and spends the victim’s money. However, soon his seclusion births loneliness. The chapter shots, symmetry, sharp editing and personification of the mansion and its portraits pay homage to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Fortunately for the friendless murderer he has an eerie voyeur keeping him company, shown by sudden unidentified sounds, tremors and a faceless figure wearing an orange jacket.
Usually in a movie, it’s clear who the audience are rooting for, but the clever twists and the narrative structure of hunters becoming hunted makes us intriguingly indecisive, to the point that we doubt our own moralist judgements. The murderer himself looks frail and tortured, in the same manner his victim endured. He has a tool kit as his weaponry but apart from that, he is atypical of what we expect from a villain in a slasher film. His cowardice and terror proposes that his murderous act was for a single purpose with gain and that evil doesn’t run through his veins.
Subtitle shy filmgoers shouldn’t be hesistant about the Latvian origins of a film that is largely dependent on action and tension without the unnecessary realistic dialogue that threatens horror’s integrity. This is the way horror films should be made and Latvian director Aik Karapetian’s debut has put them back in the right direction, along with a clever study on conscience, the debated importance of social status and primal instinctive similarities that make all humans alike.
Matt Taylor Hobbs
The Man in the Orange Jacket release date is yet to be announced.
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