Office Killer

USA, 1996, 35mm, col., 82 min.

Photographer Cindy Sherman gained world fame with her black and white photos, called ‘film stills’, in which she portrayed herself in the roles of fictional B movie heroines from imaginary films. In the eighties and nineties her work became darker and sinister. In her ‘horror’ and ‘disgust’ pictures she stages morbid atmospheres. With elements such as model-doll limbs ripped apart, and vomit and other bodily fluids, she suggests an agonising microcosm of death and decay. Sherman plays with multiple identities. Each time, she succeeds in upsetting our expectations. Her debut, Office Killer, is no exception.
Dorine, shy, always keeping her head down, is a diligent copy editor on ‘Constant Consumer Magazine’. She is the kind of woman everyone in the office relies on, but nobody wants to know. Dorine lives alone with her handicapped mother. Her daily routine is broken when the company reorganises and is forced to do most of her work online, from her computer at home. One night she has to do some overtime, and accidentally electrocutes one of her bossy colleagues. In a split second her fear switches into power. Where we are used to seeing on-screen murderers who try to conceal their acts, and make them look like accidents, Sherman invert raditional story patterns. For Dorine it is a much better idea to approach this accidental death as murder. She takes the corpse to her cellar at home, and treats him like a more patient colleague who never nags or complains. Now that she has a taste for blood and revenge, she becomes a serial killer, ‘inviting’ all her colleagues to her home office. By the end of the movie, Dorine’s cellar looks like a ‘live version’ of Sherman’s recent photographs: compositions of decay and rotting bodies. But where the tone of the photos is deadly serious, here it is a brilliant parody of the horror genre. The open ending leaves no doubt about that: since there are no more staff to work for, Dorine heads for a new job as office manager…As in her photographs, Cindy Sherman creates a whole new world, which slightly resembles the one we know, but which operates on its own, bizarre terms. Office Killer is a highly creative work that defies easy definition: it is art and it is camp, it is both within the genre and a self-conscious comment on it, it is horrifying and it is funny. But like every Cindy Sherman creation, it is like nothing any of us has seen before.

Directed by: Cindy Sherman; cast: Carol Kane, Molly Ringwald, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Barbara Sukowa, Michael Imperioli; produced by Christine Vachon & Pamela Koffler; Artfear Productions.

In collaboration with Slovenska kinoteka

Date and time of event: 
Oct 15th
Place of event: 
Slovenska kinoteka