25 Jan 2022
Dr Sanjay Raghatate, Dr Piyush Wankhede
Adapted from Chris Ossman’s short story, The Profiler concerns an out of control psychologist/executioner, or psychutioner, who enacts old-testament style torture upon a convicted serial killer.
Drawn as a high concept horror-thriller, we find ourselves in the not too distant future, trapped in a dank room, with Dr Phillip McCleod (Dr Sanjay Raghatate) and his patient, serial killer Thomas Edwards (Dr Piyush Wankhede). Quickly the doctor succumbs to madness, (a trope horror still fondly embraces) and readily sets about re-enacting the serial killer’s murders, using the killer himself as the victim. He justifies like-for-like torture upon the death-row inmate as a practice that allows him to both understand his patient and to prepare him to “meet his maker”.
This polished, monochromatic work readily draws comparisons to the Saw franchise, which also deals with irredeemable characters paying the price for their misdeeds by suffering cruel and ironic punishments. The arch voiceover instead relates more to the cult TV series 1000 Ways to Die, which again dispatches immoral people but with more overt humour. However, The Profiler has an agenda. It tries to articulate the crossing of the line between schadenfreude and sadism to convey the barbarism of capital punishment.
Existing as a collaboration between a screenwriter in the US and a filmmaking team in India, this short spans two of the most populous countries in the world that still enforce capital punishment. Therefore creating a work of art that condemns the practice is a noble cause, but it isn’t hard to expose the hypocrisy of something so medieval. It takes either a unique or fully realised concept to capture an audience, and The Profiler falls flat in this department as it fails to deliver enough intrigue or substance in its ten-minute run-time. It would be hard to believe that this film makes a convincing enough argument to those that still agree with capital punishment, that they should instead condemn it. And for those of us who are already on-side, the text lacks a hook, there is no unique metaphor or well-crafted idea that troubles the mind after the credits have rolled.
Fans of the sub-genre ill-fittingly labelled as torture porn may find something in this short, but it does little to differentiate itself in terms of concept. As an international film that condemns capital punishment, The Profiler should be commended, though it may have little to offer other than sentiment.