Search - Karla on DVD

Actors: Laura Prepon, Misha Collins, Patrick Bauchau, Emilie Jacobs, Alex Boyd
Director: Joel Bender
Genres: Drama
R     2007     1hr 39min

Evil has a beautiful face. A deeply disturbing true story "The Ken and Barbie Killers" Winter - 1990. The most notorious serial killers in the history of Canada begin their psychological dance with death and depravity ...  more »


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Actors: Laura Prepon, Misha Collins, Patrick Bauchau, Emilie Jacobs, Alex Boyd
Director: Joel Bender
Creators: Joel Bender, Donald A. Barton, James Schramm, John Remark, Manette Rosen, Michael D. Sellers
Genres: Drama
Sub-Genres: Drama
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 04/03/2007
Original Release Date: 01/01/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2005
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 39min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English

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Member Movie Reviews

Reviewed on 11/3/2009...
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Christine S. (chadanna) from WHITE LAKE, MI
Reviewed on 8/21/2009...
Pretty good. I thought it was very close to the real story.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Factually corrupt.
Andrew MacEwen | 06/17/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)

"When I saw a woman in the writing credits, I immediately knew what I was in for.

1) Although Paul had committed two rapes and attempted a third before meeting Karla, he did not plunge headlong into his solo career as the Scarborough Rapist until after they had met and she had started encouraging his sickest fantasies and most deviant behavior. The film reverses the sequence of events: it has Bernardo well into his career as rapist before he and Karla start to commit their mutual depredations. (e.g., A notorious police sketch of the Scarborough rapist that led to Paul's being detained and questioned was published after his eleventh rape, two-and-half-years after he and Karla met. In the film, this occurs almost immediately once they start dating.) This rearranging of events absolves Karla of having any real effect on Paul's fantasies and behavior.

2) The film omits Karla's encouragement of Paul's activities as a solo rapist. Paul's claim that Karla "set him off" is mentioned, but the filmmakers chose not dramatize any influence on Karla's part. See #1.

3) The film portrays their relationship as abusive, with Paul constantly using Karla as a punching bag, escalating in frequency as their relationship spirals, thus creating the fraudulent possibility that some kind of "learned helplessness" syndrome contributed to her behavior. The dramatization certainly asserts quite openly that she couldn't leave him because of this "learned helplessness." In actuality, Paul did not hit Karla until the night he pounded her with a flashlight, at which point she immediately turned him in. And yet we are shown, instead of the brief flashlight attack, an extended and thoroughly bogus sequence in which Paul punishes Karla for having made a half-hearted attempt to leave him by sodomizing her with a gag in her mouth and then throwing her down the stairs and beating her some more. Then the story resorts to that familiar and facile standby with which we are all familiar from Lifetime and Oxygen and "Sleeping with the Enemy" -- Karla can't leave Paul because he'll hunt her down and kill her. Again, the real-life scenario was completely different: their relationship was mutual bliss until her beat her with the flashlight. And she left him immediately.

4) The film does not portray Karla procuring Paul's victims. Instead, it has Paul finding his own victims and bringing them back to the house to the surprise of Karla. This lie of omission is unforgivable.

5) Karla Homolka was aroused watching her loverboy rape his victims. This is mostly ignored by the filmmakers. Particularly dishonest is a scene in which she is seen reading American Psycho in bed while Paul is in the basement with a victim. In actuality, Karla was in the same room with Paul and his victim while reading the Ellis book. The book was intensifying the arousal she felt at what Paul was doing. When asked at the trial how she could read a book and watch her husband rape a girl, she responded by saying, "I'm capable of doing two things at once." This is a classic sociopath's comment, as it is not clear just how seriously the answer was intended and to what extent she was goading her interrogator. But there is no true sense of Karla as a sociopath in this film, despite the coda that informs us that the real-life psychiatrist assessed her as one.

6) Initially, Karla displays curiosity when witnessing Paul's assault on a girl and following his instructions to kiss her. As the film progresses, however, she experiences pangs of conscience and is portrayed as a horrified onlooker. After one murder, we are treated to a risible scene in which she symbolically scrubs herself clean in the shower as Paul violates a Catholic schoolgirl in a nearby room. These are outrageous lies, since anyone who has seen the videotapes can testify that Karla was a perverted and slavering participant who needed no threats of violence or psychological manipulation to join in these depredations. During the climax of this second torture killing, we see that Karla has become hardened and emotionally deadened and that her moral qualms are gone, but this is a far cry from the perverted deviant she actually was all along.

Choosing to tell the story via Karla's self-serving accounts allows the filmmakers to sidestep the otherwise unavoidable conclusion that she was an eager, willing, and sadistic accomplice. While the interviewing psychiatrist in the wraparound narrative framework provides a reference point for the viewer that makes it clear Karla's words cannot necessarily be trusted, the dramatization itself manages to suggest that Karla was essentially a woman whose low self-esteem ran so deep that she participated in these activities mostly to keep Paul happy and ensure that she wouldn't lose him. Any faint glimmerings of sadistic enjoyment (and they are very few and very faint) displayed by Karla are subtly passed off as the ill effects of Paul's "victimization" of her.

Relationships like these are mutually toxic, though not necessarily equally so in both directions. If we can assume as a matter of course that Karla would not have done these things without a partner like Paul, then we should be able to consider the possibility that Paul's behavior was, to some extent, affected by the presence of Karla.

Alas, we live in a society which steadfastly refuses to believe in female depravity unless its presence is attributed to the pernicious influence of a patriarchal, white-male "hegemony." Films like this are factually corrupt and disgusting.
Fred Cody | Coral Springs, FL | 04/07/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This was a very disturbing, yet, very engrossing movie. Real life crime stories intrique me and this was no exception. I thought the two main leads, Collins and Prepon were exceptionally good and it's a role certainly against type for Prepon. Perhaps there is too much sympathy for Karla in the movie, however, if some of the deleted scenes had been included, it may not have been the case in the finished product. This movie could have been explotive if the sex and rape scenes were more brutal, but, I commend all involved for leaving more to the immaginiation than the eyes. It's a movie you really want to follow almost word for word, frame by frame, as to not miss something that might give you a reason to understand the callousness and the brutality of the two principals in the case. I highly recommend this movie, but, it is disturbing, especially knowing it is based on a true story. Well done, well crafted, and well worth seeing."
Not as good as I had hoped it would be
Sarah Bellum | Dublin, OH United States | 04/26/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

""Karla" is a small, fairly low-budget film that rather quietly recounts the story of Karla Homolka, wife of serial rapist and murderer Paul Bernardo. Being somewhat familiar with their story, I anticipated it would translate well to film. For the most part, the film succeeds in providing a realistic portrayal of a battered wife, whose husband managed to maintain a semblance of normalcy and elude capture for a few years. The tone of the film is fairly understated, which seems to contrast somewhat with the story. These were some horrific, disturbing events that might be shocking, though they were also true. Director Joel Bender deserves credit for not making them overly dramatic by adding stylized violence or ominous music, as so often happens in films that deal with this type of material. The actors also deserve credit for not overacting and hamming up their performances, which often occurs in horror and suspense films. Perhaps out of respect for the families of the victims, this film is not exploitive or sensationalized. If one watches this film expecting a prurient, American-style horror film, replete with blood, gore and gratuitous nudity, one will find the experience disappointing. I was, nonetheless, a little disappointed with the film, though not for the above reasons. It is pretty clear that Karla Homolka was abused by Paul Bernardo and that he perpetrated some atrocious, unconscionable acts. I cannot comprehend why abused women stay with their men, though I know it does happen. Karla Homolka was (and perhaps still is) a deceitful, manipulative individual, who knew her husband was raping and murdering young women; yet, she did nothing about it until her own life came into jeopardy. Even though she decided to stay, that doesn't provide rationale for condoning his raping and murdering these women. The end of the film contains an epilogue, which refutes much of what was portrayed in the film. It states in part that she has expressed no sympathy for the murdered girls, yet she is portrayed in the film as being at least moderately sympathetic toward them. She also did not appear to be too emotionally hurt by her abuse, as though the filmmakers could not decide what to make of her and consequently decided to write the character without much of a personality. It seems her character is based solely on a credulous, verbatim reading of interviews with her so that she comes across as stoic, detached and passive. Perhaps in reality she is emotionless and inured to her environment, though here she is presented so innocuously that it makes me wonder how "Evil has a beautiful face" was chosen as the tagline. Her character provides the impetus for the story since it is told from her perspective, which makes her lack of definition rather unfortunate for this film. Character issues aside, the film has too many slow-motion scenes, which gives it a little made-for-TV feel. Although no subtitles are included, the DVD does have several deleted scenes that are presented by the director. After hearing his extremely dry, insipid introductions, I understood how Karla's character came to be so underdeveloped. Contrast this film with "Monster" for a good example of how a person's motivations and experiences can be parlayed into an interesting, yet insidious character. For a different perspective of these characters, read the books "Invisible Darkness" or "Deadly Innocence.""