For a film obviously produced with few resources and on a tight budget, DT convincingly delivers a menacing, occasionally savage depiction of the corruption of the human psyche. However, it starts so slowly that you’ll be tempted to put the kettle on in the first twenty minutes, and as it’s only a short film – around 75mins total – the preamble seems to take up a significant proportion of the overall event. But the intro is worth enduring: it establishes key aspects of the core character and his soon-to-be-unleashed psychosis.
The tourist of the title is a security guard. Prefers night shifts. A quiet guy. Likes his routines and rituals. Avoids entanglements. Single, mid-40s, still on close terms with his mother. You know the type. Never any trouble…
For his vacations, he indulges his hobby of tracing the steps of serial killers and mass murderers. Goes on the tourist trail to places where blood has been shed, and to the places important in the early lives of psychopaths and killers, where they experienced the events which shaped and moulded their characters and eventual actions. On one such trip, he starts to identify very closely with a killer named Carl. Too closely.
What follows is a subtle if predictable depiction of the genesis of a spree killer. You can tell exactly where Dark Tourist is heading from the opening sequences (get the egg-eating episode), but that doesn’t detract from watching the following events unfold in front of you. The lead actor, who we follow for the entirety of the film, mumbles and stumbles in a convincingly collapsing manner, torn between his desire to experience normality and his contempt for the everyday folk he encounters.
Even though the outcome feels inevitable, there are some eye-popping twists and plot convolutions along the way. Not all our expectations are met and some are wittily subverted. We understand that Carl is a figment, a delusion, but he’s a powerful presence in the latter part of the film nonetheless. And if you are easily shocked — especially by the expression of explicit and unusual sexuality — then you should probably not watch this film!
The final section, leading the next generation of warped mind toward the edge of the abyss, may be overkill. Or just another apposite observation on the glorification of violence: which might leave you asking why we watch such films in the first place.
Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason
Dark Tourist is available to rent or buy on DVD