Plot: An execution is about to take place, as Jake (Mike Pfaff) will have a seat in the electric chair and pay the price for his crimes. As part of an experimental medical research program, Jake will be given an injection before the execution, an analgesic that should suppress the pain of electrocution. As it turns out, the injection works better than anyone could have expected and not only does he feel no pain, but his body is able to survive and recover from the experience. Now the warden knows he has the secret to immortality, so he abandons his promise to use the serum to treat cancer and focuses on more profitable ventures. But when the doctor who developed the serum resists and some prisoners threaten to derail the warden’s plans, what will become of those involved and this landmark serum?
Entertainment Value: Painkiller has an interesting premise, with a serum that grants nearly invincible status to those it is administered to, but the movie doesn’t do much with that cool concept. The narrative is kind of scattered and unfocused, which doesn’t let any of the threads develop to a satisfying level. The doctor, the warden, the doomed man, the loyal guard, and the two other two convicts are all given seeds of stories, the movie just fails to nurture and develop them. So we have several dead end threads with no real depth, when a single, focused narrative given room to breathe would have worked much better. The tone is serious, but the writing and performances don’t quite deliver as needed, which means Painkiller sometimes veers into unintentional humor, which I appreciated. If you want a serious thriller, that might be bad news, but I think fans of bad movies will have some laughs here. The cast is not good, but again, some are so terrible that is hilarious to watch. Ingrid Haubert is the best of the lot, but she has a small role, so she isn’t around much. This one is hard to recommend, but if the premise sounds interesting to you and you appreciate unintentional humor in movies, roll the dice on this one.
No nakedness. Be it erotica or prison rape, there’s no sexual content in this one, despite the prison location. The movie has some violence, but it is rather tame and when there is blood, it is minimal and mostly low end CGI. So we see some blood stains on clothes and skin, but the actual violence is minor at worst. The most violent scene is a prison yard brawl, but it isn’t visceral or all that intense. So don’t expect a brutal, gritty prison style action approach, as that isn’t the case. The dialogue is pretty abysmal, but it is sometimes fun thanks to the stilted, awful performances involved. The warden is a source of some of the worst moments, as he really tries to be a good villain, but falls flat and it is fun to watch happen. So this is a case where bad writing and even worse performances combine to provide some humorous moments, but not enough to make Painkiller a potential b movie cult pick. No real craziness in this one, but I will award one point for the terrible script and performances.
Overall Insanity: 1/10