“Making a Killing”
Based on a True Story
“Making a Killing” is a true crime story that has the characters and plot that pull you into its stranger than fiction tale. It is the story that shocked the small-town community of Florence, South Carolina. At the center is a trio of morticians, and their claim to a rare collection of coins that can make one rich, if one of the three knows how to sell them. There is Arthur Herring (Mike Starr), the town mayor and church pastor. His brother Vincent (Jude Moran) serves as Arthur’s ever faithful right-hand man. The third is Lloyd Mickey (Christopher Lloyd), recently released from prison for child-sex offenses. He wants possession of his coins, so he can start his life over. Someone decided that Mickey’s destination should be death and put a bullet to his head.
Police detective Orlando Hudson (Michael Jai White) comes on the case and is an incorruptible and tenacious presence amongst this small-town community, where dark truths are hidden. Director and co-writer Devin Hume (his feature debut) keep things at a steady pace, letting his characters determine the films beats and depth. The further down the dark hole of greed, lust and murder they go, the more we are engrossed in this story of murder and conspiracy in small town America. At the end of the film, not only are we be thoroughly intrigued and entertained, but we shaking in disbelief.
It is amazing how little Hume and co-screenwriter Jamie Pelz embellished their narrative. Arthur Herring is an awful lot like his true crime analog who in addition to his mayoral and embalming duties, is also the town pastor and he owns everyone’s favorite diner. His partner in all these ventures is his younger brother Vincent but it is always clear Arthur calls the shots.
The bothers also have some rather felonious inclinations, especially with regard to Lloyd Mickey, a supposedly friendly rival. According to their plan, the Herring Brothers would help out their friend-in-need, by holding onto his cash and rare coin collection while he served time on a molestation conviction, thereby protecting his finances from lawsuits. Now that Mickey is out, he wants his money back. One thing leads to another, with the upshot being one dead ex-con mortician. Since they do not have a lot of murders in these parts, hard-charging Orlando Hudson is dispatched from the state’s Criminal Investigation Department. Of course, he gets a chilly reception from Chief Riley, even before evidence starts to link the Herrings to the murder. The best part of the film is Michael Jai White’s swaggering through town with attitude, physicality, and a larger than life presence.