‘The Kill Room’ is a dark comedic thriller movie under the direction of Nicol Paone. Hailed for the Uma Thurman and Samuel L. Jackson union for the first time since ‘Pulp Fiction,’ the narrative follows Patrice (Thurman), an art gallery owner, who is at risk of shutting down her establishment due to diminishing sales. This is in part due to her upright ethical policies, which prevent her from buying fake reviews, generating clout, or tolerating reprehensible artists. To save her business, she sheds some of these principles when Gordon (Jackson), a bakery owner connected to the mob, makes her a tempting offer. He will use her gallery as a front for money laundering, leveraging the subjective prices of artworks. In addition, he will get his assassin, Reggie, to create more abstract art to display at her gallery and give her a sizeable cut.
In an unexpected turn of events, Reggie’s paintings, signed as “The Bagman,” become a sensation in the art world. Patrice is elated at her renewed relevance, while Gordon is unsettled by the attention it brings to their operation. Things spin out of control as Patrice uncovers Reggie’s line of work and becomes a target for the underworld. The film paints a satirical portrait of the art world, exploring its connection to organized crime. It draws a parallel between Reggie’s strokes on the canvas and his strikes on his victims. With its themes having such a close resemblance to reality, you may be wondering if ‘The Kill Room’ is based on a true story or inspired by true events.
The Kill Room is Driven by a Fictional Script
‘The Kill Room’ is not based on a true story; it is based on a script penned by Jonathan Jacobson and helmed by Nicol Paone. Even though the film is not based on true events, it has elements of satire and realism which add to its believability, making it a more engrossing experience. Nicol Paone has been immersed in the art world since 2015, sporting a burgeoning collection of her own. However, she is also a comedian and sees opportunities to take digs at the subject matter. Over the years, the art industry has garnered infamy for a number of such outlandish instances that they have provided comic relief around the world.
A banana taped to a wall selling for $1.2 million, Kevin Abosch’s Potato for $1 million, Jens Haaning taking $84,000 and turning in a blank canvas titled, ‘Take The Money and Run.’ The director was very aware of this and used similar instances in the movie to stimulate the same comedic relief people have felt looking at eccentric art sales while not needing a suspension of disbelief.
The valuation of art pieces is almost as much about who makes the art rather than just the art itself. The film showcases this perfectly with the success of the Bagman, a mysterious figure who becomes sensationalized within the art scene, creating what appraisers perceive as dark and enigmatic works. The artistic pieces by Reggie needed to be made behind the scenes as very primary and unrefined paintings that would still have the complexity to convincingly portray enticing works on-screen. Paone recounted struggling with their creation, trying to strip artists in her crew of their acumen and make a bare-bones painting that met the criteria.
You may also have felt a sense of familiarity with ‘The Kill Room’ if you had seen the movie ‘Velvet Buzzsaw,’ another dark satire thriller on the art world. But where the latter takes a critical buzzsaw to the art world, the former takes it on with cheeky humor despite having a thriller story structure. ‘The Kill Room’ takes the two infamous sides of the art world, snobbish ludicrousness, and underworld association, to tell a humorous and satirical story that resonates with its audience.
While working on the script for the film, Nicole talked to her friend Dannielle Thomas at Untitled Entertainment, wishing she could get Uma Thurman onboard. Little did she know her friend represented the acclaimed actress and was soon sitting down opposite the star over lunch. She had planned for the character of Gordon to be a 72-year-old Jewish man named Herschel, but when Thurman asked if Samuel L. Jackson could play the role, Nicole was positively flabbergasted at the prospect. She rewrote the entire character and script to integrate Jackson into the movie in accordance with the personality he carries. Additionally, Uma Thurman’s daughter, Maya Hawke, plays the role of Grace, making ‘The Kill Room’ the first movie in which the mother-daughter duo has starred together.
Read More: Best Horror Comedies of All Time