For better or worse, doc “We Kill for Love” explores every nook and cranny of the erotic thriller cinematic genre. [The Overlook Film Festival]

I am all for documentaries that decide to explore every single facet of their and refuse to leave anything unturned as long as there are two caveats followed: the subject matter at hand is interesting and the way it is presented works. Whether that means the documentary itself is 90 minutes or 500 minutes, it really is no difference to me as a viewer as long as it can justify that much time because of how in-depth the subject needs to be explored. For instance, Cobain: Montage of Heck (2015), OJ: Made in America (2016), and even We Need to Talk About Cosby (2022) are all rather longer documentaries with the two latter titles being three plus hours each. This brings us to Anthony Penta’s documentary We Kill for Love which explores the history of the erotic thriller from its early creation, to what it evolved into, to how it disappeared from the mainstream. While presenting as a documentary, the film truly more feels like a master’s dissertation, which isn’t a bad thing, but does result in a slightly exhaustive outing.

We Kill For Love 1

Michael Reed as the Archivist in director Anthony Penta’s WE KILL FOR LOVE. Photo Courtesy Yellow Veil Pictures.

While discussing everything from the early inspiration to some of the late 20th century creations and pivots for the erotic thriller, We Kill for Love leaves no stone unturned. Discussing how Hitchcock’s Marnie (1964), Vertigo (1958), Rear Window (1954), and so forth were essential erotic thrillers that weren’t entirely enthralled in the more recent exploitation of the erotic, but were about a fixation on a woman and the lengths a man would go to for the woman. This evolved into other erotic thriller films such as Basic Instinct (1992) and Fatal Attraction (1987). However, these movies spawned a plethora of other movies that riffed on the title and concept and made B-movie erotic thrillers that could be almost classified as borderline pornographic. As the genre continued to grow, so did the greed and desire for more of this context.


Michael Reed as the Archivist in director Anthony Penta’s WE KILL FOR LOVE. Photo Courtesy Yellow Veil Pictures.

We Kill for Love briefly touches upon how Showcase became a rival for HBO back in the day simply because they were producing and churning out these erotic thrillers consistently. Actors who were comfortable and wanted to partake in the risqué nature of these films would become stars in the B-movie world of these erotic thrillers. Moving forward from Showcase, Playboy (yes, that Playboy) opened up two different production houses and produced countless movies, hiring essentially students and creating content that they could make money on. There is so much information to take in with We Kill for Love that instead of focusing on one or two aspects and branching a little bit off of there to get that extra insight that could be a fun tidbit or something interesting off the main topic, it explores every root, every branch, every microscopic aspect of the erotic thriller.

We Kill For Love director Anthony Penta Courtesy of Anthony Penta

WE KILL FOR LOVE director Anthony Penta. Photo Courtesy of Anthony Penta.

Anthony Penta clearly has a passion for the history of the erotic thriller and how it came to be so popularized in the ‘80s and ‘90s thanks to at-home viewing via Playboy, Showcase, and so forth, and We Kill for Love would have been better suited as a mini documentary series.  Breaking it up into a few episodes, even six episodes, would allow it to explore things with a more centred view point on the Hollywood mainstream, whether it be Hitchcock or Verhoeven or DePalma, or even explore why Michael Douglas starred in a few of these films. Making those parts more fleshed out while staying true to the subject matter of the erotic thriller, whether that be a mainstream Hollywood title or a B-movie, would have made for a more cohesive dissection of the subgenre while also allowing audiences to hone in on one aspect at a time in a more controlled environment. We Kill for Love explores every nook and cranny of the erotic thriller, whether that be for better or worse, but addresses too much overall and to little of the more interesting production side of things.

Screened during The Overlook Film Festival 2023.

For more information, head to the official Overlook Film Festival 2023 film schedule, the Yellow Veil Pictures webpage, or We Kill For Love website.

Final Score: 3.5 out of 5.

Categories: In Theaters, Reviews

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