Film Review: Killing Gunther


From director, writer, star and SNL alumni, Taran Killam, comes a wacky mockumentary about a bunch of hitmen and women, attempting to kill a hitman code named Gunther, aka the greatest hitman alive.

Anyone who has seen the U.S Office and/or Parks and Recreation, knows pretty much what they’re in for here; an egotistical protagonist who is an idiot, an ensemble of characters with an assortment of quirks, talking heads filled with awkward comedy, many comedic asides to the camera etc, the list goes on. However, as unoriginal as Killing Gunther appears to be, it does serve as an admirable effort to find something new within an oversaturated genre, even if it’s mission is futile.

The film starts off by introducing the quirks that will become the characters we follow. Spending its time riffing off well known mockumentary tropes in ways that will gain a laugh or two, even if you’ve seen the gags done a lot better somewhere else. Personally, the film feels rather bloated with the number of character quirks it contains, jumping through them quickly to cover everyone. This being said, the quirk combination occasionally works, and the film resolves this overpopulation issue gradually over its runtime, albeit in a rather unsatisfactory fashion.

Once into the second act, the film shifts its comedy into the melodramatic gear, playing laughs out of the characters increasingly tragic situations. This is where the film falls completely flat, coming off as cringey instead of its aim of cringe comedy. Fortunately, however, the film’s final act somewhat satisfies, thanks in large part to a surprisingly funny performance from the Governor of California. Schwarzenegger steals the show in a completely ridiculous role that perhaps wasn’t intended to be funny in the way it was, but nonetheless, he’s a character you wished you’d seen more of.

A lot of care is felt in this film. Writer, director and star Taran Killam gives maximum effort and enthusiasm, which you occasionally get a kick out of, however he is trying too hard on all fronts, which ultimately contributes to the films mildly entertaining result. Ironically, Killing Gunther is an unintentionally funny comedy. Most of the humour found in the film, lies within its stupidity, but perhaps not in the way Killam intends for you to laugh. It’s more likely that audiences will laugh at the film rather than with it.

Overall, Killing Gunther doesn’t tread any new ground, but it tries it’s very best to make a funny thrill ride out of the mockumentary genre. In a way it works, just not in the way intended. Fans of the mockumentary formula will potentially get enjoyment out of this film, however, those looking for something more than repeated genre thrills, should probably stick to The Office.