A Case of the Mondays: Cindy Sherman’s Office Killer and Genre Violence
Office Killer (1997) dir. Cindy ShermanHorror movies are an excellent example of cinematic rubbernecking. The audience strains to see the evidence of violence beyond the frame, suspense grows from knowing that something horrible is lurking, and if there’s a glimpse of the gore, it is only for a second, leaving a flash of blood or splintered bone imprinted in the audience’s mind. There is no lingering on these images, maybe because the longer the gaze is sustained it switches from shock and terror to something else, like disgust and fetishization -- it’s impolite to stare. Which makes Office Killer (1997), Cindy Sherman’s directorial experiment, an awkward intersection of these glances.
The office setting doesn’t engender so much creativity within the horror tropes, but it does offer a semi-technophobic motivation for Dorine’s murders. Turns out the new manager of the office is embezzling funds by over-inflating the compensatory price of the new computers that threaten Dorine’s job. But when Dorine murders the mailboy, she enacts the next phase of technological development, making some positions and characters obsolete. That she also murders the head of the company, by placing a butane canister into her asthma inhaler, shows that she does not discriminate based on professional hierarchies -- a characteristic reinforced by the random murder of two girl scouts.