Naughty children are taught that they can wipe their slate of bad behavior clean, and start fresh the next day. But does this hold true for serial killers?
In his film Each Time Again, Kip Kubin explores the fascinating, but unsettling, topic of serial murder, with roots in childhood. Interestingly, Kubin’s medium of presentation is not the documentary-feature we would expect, but rather, a short narrative with minimal dialogue and set.
The film opens with Ben (Alan Powell) sneaking up on a young woman (Annie Kearney) in her home and stabbing her to death. We get the impression that Ben is well acquainted with his victim, since he knows his way around her house. After the deed is done, Ben wipes his bloody hands on his shirt, leaves the premises, and drives to a laundromat. Lucky for him, it’s devoid of others.
As if in a meditative dream, Ben stares at the room filled with shiny, coin-operated washing machines. He removes his bloody shirt, and places it in a specific washer, carefully inserts his coins, and then sits in a chair, watching in pensive bliss. The notion that sin can be absolved by the cleansing of the soul has definite primitive, ritualistic and religious connotations. Here, Ben’s soul is symbolized by his bloody clothing.
In a very brief but powerful flashback, Kubin returns us to Ben’s roots, where we hear the voice of his mother (Fleming McWilliams) shouting inaudibly, and see a slovenly-dressed man (David Malus) emerge furtively from somewhere. Next, we see the remains of a tortured bird, and a young boy—presumably Ben— wipe his bloody hands on his shirt. Young Ben (Jack Reed) then proceeds to visit the very same laundromat shown earlier and settles upon that very specific washer. And so, Ben’s life begins and ends, in patterned oneness with the machine.
What it all means is not for me to dictate. All I know is that Each Time Again does far more than just frighten us to death. This seeming splatter film poses very real questions, and not simply the obvious ones about stressors creating serial killers. Instead, it compels us to think about our mainstream religious practices, and how we educate our children. Considering the almost daily news about child-murderers, perhaps we should take heed of Kip Kubin’s little lesson, disturbingly but potently told in Each Time Again.
As for any flaws in this well-written, strongly acted masterpiece, I can only find one. In the cut that I watched, there were some interior shots in the house and in Ben’s car that were muddy-dark. Hopefully, these can be fixed in post-production if screening at a theatre is an option.
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