Friday, January 1, 2010

In short: Kaw (2007)

US small town sheriff Wayne (Sean Patrick Flanery) is going to be whisked away to the Big City by his newly acquired wife Cynthia (Kristin Booth) soon. Cynthia's a professor of Cultural Anthropology and initially only came to town to study the (single) Mennonite family of the place, but probably realized how ridiculous that project was and instead grabbed herself an ex-teen star.

I don't think Wayne did expect his last day as a sheriff to be filled with all the fun you have when fighting off a swarm of mad-cow-diseased, hyper-intelligent ravens who decide that now is a good time to improve their diet with human flesh.

Then there's some business about Cynthia spending half the film hiding in a well because she thinks the Mennonites want to sacrifice her. I mean, she's a Cultural Anthropologist, so she's gotta know best about the Mennonite sacrificin' ways, right?

Not that the day of school bus driver Clyde (Stephen McHattie, for some reason acting as good as if he were in a real movie) is any better. Protecting three annoying teenagers and their teacher from birds with the power of tool use ain't a tea party, either.

What starts out promising deeply derivative yet competently made 90 minutes of birdsploitation soon turns into a ridiculous pile of bad and deeply idiotic ideas delivered with all the style a film directed by some random dude the producers just grabbed from the street can muster.

I actually did like Sheldon Wilson's previous film Shallow Ground quite a bit, but that one seems to have been made by a very different person - someone who cares about making a good movie.

This isn't to say that Kaw isn't an entertaining film. In a "point and laugh at the movie" way, this can be a whole lot of fun. There are incredible amounts of lazy stupidity to laugh about, starting with the whole Mennonite business which is incredibly offensive, yet does make no sense whatsoever. Obviously "screenwriter" (and I use the term loosely) Benjamin Sztajnkrycer didn't even bother to research their religion and mores on Wikipedia, or he would have stumbled upon that whole non-violence thing.

The best, or most painful, moment goes to the birds, though. Nothing can beat the scene in which the (improved by mad cow disease!) ravens throw rocks at the school bus window to get at the tasty treats inside. Bruno Mattei himself would be proud.

Equally brilliant is the way the film keeps the characters isolated from each other in times of the cell phone. It just ignores that cell phones exist and are used by nearly everyone you'll meet in the real world. Obviously, if the film doesn't mention them, its audience won't realize that they are there. It's also possible that everything takes place in an alternative history where the cell phone was never invented, ravens are more clever than dolphins, and Mennonites are reeaaal frightening. Alas, the film never bothers to tell us.

The only thing the Kaw has going for it (well apart from surprisingly decent effects, but how cares about them in this context?) is Stephen McHattie, who puts so much more effort into his work than anyone else connected with the film that the words "tragic waste" can't help but come to mind.



Keith said...

I believe in my house we pronounced this film to be "kawful."

houseinrlyeh said...

Two out of three fake-bearded Mennonites agree.