Everyone has “that” friend. You know the one: they show up uninvited, eat all the food, get drunk, make lecherous, obnoxious comments and then pass out on your couch at the end of the night, oblivious to anything but themselves.
For one group of urbanites, Karl is “that” friend for them. He arrives at a party where they are all gathered and creates mayhem, insulting people, getting drunk and generally irritating everyone with his boorish behavior. Fed up with Karl, his friends decide to look for an opportunity to hasten his demise.
This dark comedy-short, directed by Joe Kicak and written by Karen Moore, is essentially a long self-contained party scene, in which a group of friends must deal with the problematic member of their tribe. Like many social comedies, the film crackles with energy and sharp dialogue, and the camera keeps up with aplomb, tracking the shifting dynamics of the group with clarity and ease. With brisk pacing, the film doesn’t wear out its welcome or belabor its jokes, making for an entertaining experience.
The film features a strong ensemble cast, and it’s easy to believe this is a group of people who have known each other for years. Actor Mike Lobel, who plays Karl, willingly “goes there” in terms of extreme obnoxiousness, in a tour-de-force performance that is hilariously toxic. There’s no doubt Karl is totally, absolutely annoying, but Lobel is also able to hit the moments of vulnerability that offer a peek into the insecurity behind his behavior — which makes the film’s ending all the more gasp-inducing.
At its core, “Must Kill Karl” is a story about a friendship that has worn its welcome. “Friend breakups” can be just as complicated as their romantic equivalents, but there’s no set protocol to tell a friend that you no longer have much in common and they no longer quite fit into your life anymore. “Must Kill Karl” takes that lack of social norm to an extreme in the way that the best dark comedies do, mingling laughter and provocation in an unforgettable way.