Office Killer. 1997. USA. Directed by Cindy Sherman. Screenplay by Todd Haynes, Tom Kalin, Elise MacAdam and Cindy Sherman. With Carol Kane, David Thornton, Molly Ringwald, Barbara Sukowa and Michael Imperioli. Music by Evan Lurie. 35mm. 82 min.
Described by writer Dahlia Schweitzer as “a comedy/horror/melodrama/noir/feminist statement/art piece,” renowned multimedia artist Cindy Sherman’s only theatrical feature is a genre-bending mix, to say the least. Harshly reviewed on its initial release (by the New York Times, in particular) this malevolent satire has no sympathy for any of its careerist, white-collar characters and their manicured city ways. In the lead as a mousey psychopath, Carol Kane—in the third of her remarkable horror performances, after When a Stranger Calls (1978) and The Mafu Cage (1979)—quietly eliminates a series of dismissive, patronizing superiors played by the likes of Rainer Werner Fassbinder favorite Barbara Sukowa and ex-“brat packer” Molly Ringwald. If Kane’s Dorine is a devilish stand-in for Sherman, as some have claimed, it’s not simply because she arranges the rotting corpses in her basement like an art installation, it’s also because she’s fully in control of how others see her, and she’s not content to be underestimated.