Who is dead, who is alive, and who is imaginary? Pill-popping, mop-pushing mope Cole (Mark Kelly) isn't sure, and neither are we as we run alongside him on his hallucinatory marathon in hallowed halls of the rich and fatal. While he leaves everything sparkling on the outside, Cole rots from within gnawed at by doubt and worry. Did his friend Eric (Billy Burke) really murder his wife? Or is it his employer (Oz Perkins) who's a lady killer? Both have asked Cole to do some clean-up and removal. Both seem to have blood on their hands. But as the maintenance man finds out, even as he struggles with his own domestic issues, not every stain is so easy remove. Sort of a Lady Macbeth in overalls, Cole struggles with ridding himself of dirt of many kinds.
Removal isn't the kind of movie you can talk a lot about when it comes to plot, as it really is a moody drama with horror elements and to pick apart story would serve only to spoil the experience of watching the madness seep through the pores of its characters.
While his name isn't as instantly accessible as his costars, Kelly carries this movie from beginning to end and holds his own well against perhaps more charismatic but ultimately less-deep performances. The actor is in nearly every scene and whether he is speaking or emoting, it comes off natural and effortless in spite of the rather extraordinary and odd moments Cole must convey. He does it with intensity and without going over the top. Perkins and Burke chew scenery to some extent, but director Nick Simon keeps everyone pretty much on a level playing field so that it does indeed seem plausible all these characters do exist in the same world.
The scenes of bloody murder aftermath are attention-getting without being gratuitous. The horror comes in, in the minds of the men and through the extinguished lives of the women.
The cinematography is quite lovely and artfully thought out, as is the lighting and use of color (see trailer, below).
It's a shame Lionsgate kind of orphaned Removal, so here's hoping some of you think of enough of this review to take the next step and rent or get the DVD. It's available now.