Film / Karla

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Karla is a 2006 Canadian motion picture drama and thriller. The film is based on the true story of two of Canada's most notorious serial killers, Paul Bernardo (Misha Collins) and Karla Homolka (Laura Prepon).


This film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptation Name Change: The murder victims' names have been changed from Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French to Tina Mc Carthy and Kaitlyn Ross, respectively. For obvious reasons.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Kaitlyn to Karla.
    Why do you stay?
  • Berserk Button : Calling Paul a "bastard." This gives the second victim a tiny Crowning Moment of Awesome.
    Kaitlyn: Some things are worth dying for.
    Paul : Who am I?
    Kaitlyn: You're a bastard!
  • Bi the Way : Karla, although the film portrays it in a painfully creepy way.
  • Blatant Lies : Paul and Karla each accused the other of killing the victims, and claimed no responsibility for the murders.
  • California Doubling: An extreme case of it - it was a Canadian production, but it was shot in America with an all-American cast because no one in Canada wanted anything to do with the production.
  • Catholic School Girls Rule : The second murder victim was picked up in the vacinity of her Catholic school, still wearing her uniform.
  • Character Title
  • Clingy Jealous Girl : It's been hypothesized that one of the reasons Karla went along with Paul's plan was that she was jealous of the attention he paid towards her sister Tammy. This is downplayed in the film.
  • Domestic Abuser : Paul to Karla.
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals : Karla sleeps with a teddy bear. In real life, its name was Bunky The Bear, and she gave it to Kristen French to hold.
  • Godiva Hair : Kaitlyn's hair covers her bare chest.
  • '80s Hair : The "small town" hair with a ball of hairsprayed bangs didn't really go "out" in Southern Ontario until the mid-1990s. Karla sported a good set of them in all her pictures, and the film delights in this.
  • Fairy Tale Wedding Dress : Karla wears one during her wedding to Paul. It even has Giant Poofy Sleeves, yet is somewhat less elaborate than the real life Homolka wedding dress (which had lace).
  • Framing Device : The film is framed as an interview between Karla and her psychiatrist.
  • Friend to All Living Things : Or perhaps Not Good with People, Karla loved animals, particularly her dog Buddy, and worked as a veterinary technician.
  • Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist : As they're getting ready to go on their honeymoon to Hawaii, Paul wears a loud Hawaiian shirt.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D. : Karla shuts down while Paul rapes her sister. It doesn't last long.
  • Historical Villain Downgrade: Karla reimagined as Bernado's victim.
  • Inelegant Blubbering : After Karla leaves, Paul drunkenly breaks down. In an apparent fictionalization, he seems to be Driven to Suicide by pointing a knife at his chest. One of the ways you can tell this is set in Canada.
  • Kinky Cuffs : The first time Karla brings Paul home, she shows him her handcuffs.
  • Losing a Shoe in the Struggle : The second kidnap victim loses a shoe.
  • Love Makes You Evil : Apparently the reason Karla went along with Bernardo.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places : Karla picks up a guy in a bar and they have sex in the washroom.
  • Model Couple : Particularly in their wedding photos, Paul and Karla were unusually good-looking, and seemed to "fit" together.
  • Moral Event Horizon : Paula's rape of Tammy.
  • Nature Adores a Virgin : Paul's impetus for raping teenage girls is he wants a virgin. Including Karla's own sister.
  • Pet the Dog : Karla brushes Kaitlyn's hair out of her face.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Paul Bernardo
    Paul: Hey, babe.
    Karla: Where have you been?
    Paul: I just raped a girl.
  • Plea Bargain : Karla testified against Paul, in exchange for lenience. She was sentenced to twelve years in prison, with the possibility of parole in four. In real life, Karla Homolka served her full sentence and was released in 2005.
  • Police Are Useless : Bernardo was questioned at least twice in both the Scarborough Rapist case and the murders. (To be fair, in 1992 the technology was not as good as it is now, and even now it's a complex process.)
  • Rape Discretion Shot: Several shots of Paul Bernardo grabbing a girl from behind, then stops before the rape. Also used when he rapes Karla and her sister in separate scenes.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil : Bernardo, in addition to the murders he (or the couple) committed, was also The Scarborough Rapist.
  • Rewind, Replay, Repeat : Paul insists on watching the video they shot the night Tammy died, including showing it to their friends.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The Bernardo-Homolka case is one of the most notorious in Canadian crime history.
  • Scrapbook Story : A mild example. The couple videotaped everything, and reproductions of the tapes are used to tell some of the story. The voiceover also includes letters to Paul.
  • The Sociopath: Paul Bernardo. Karla herself, to some extent, given her apparent lack of concern for the victims. A blurb during the end credits quotes the parole board describing Karla as manipulative and egocentric.
    Despite her ability to present herself well, there is a moral vacuity and absence of empathy for her victims..."
  • Serial Rapist: Paul Bernardo
  • Serial Killer: Paul Bernardo
  • Small Name, Big Ego : Karla believes Paul to be a "musician and filmmaker." His music was terrible, Vanilla Ice-style rap.
  • Stalker with a Crush : Paul's obsession with Tammy.
  • Stockholm Syndrome : Karla to Paul, although it's questionable.
  • Tomboyish Ponytail : In the scene where Karla meets Paul, she wears her hair in a ponytail, to indicate her youth and freshness. In real life, Homolka was 17 when she met Paul at a veterinary convention. (Note: The age of consent in Ontario is 16, so there was no Jail Bait Wait).
  • Urine Trouble : When the puppy pees on the floor and Karla waits a minute to clean it up, it earns her a backhand.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The story itself is (sadly) quite true to reality, but mistakenly portrayed Homolka as yet another victim of Bernardo's sociopathic antics - despite the fact that it's long-since been established that she was just as culpable as Bernardo. The Canadian media and public were understandably appalled.
    • This is arguable, however, as Karla's "victimization" at the hands of Bernardo was her main line of defense during the court case.
    • The names of the victims, except Tammy Homolka, were changed for the film.
  • What Happened to the Mouse? : Buddy the rottweiler. We see him for two scenes, then he disappears.
  • Yandere : Karla and Paul's relationship is intense, co-dependent, violent, and dangerous.
  • Your Cheating Heart : Paul screws another woman while Karla is upstairs, listening.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/Karla