Saturday, November 8, 2014

In short: Kristy (2014)

An internet-based cult kills young women it dubs “Kristy” (insert some random crap about purity and stuff). Their newest victim is Justine (Haley Bennett) a hard-working student spending a lonely Thanksgiving weekend on a depopulated college campus.

They’ve chosen a bad victim this time around, though, because – “surprise” – after the usual series of terrorizing gestures and murders, Justine is rather good at turning the tables on her would-be killers, and soon the hunter becomes the hunted, etc.

I’m generally not very fond of home invasion and hoodie horror movies, because far too many of these films are thinly veiled excuses for bourgeois filmmakers to express their resentments towards poor people, with generally little of substance or interest to say about class. Oliver Blackburn’s Kristy doesn’t bother with this sort of thing at all, at first making small gestures that might suggest a film willing to do something with class based horror but quickly deteriorating into a film with so little visible passion for its material it doesn’t even get around to being reactionary. Apart from the whole “evil Internet people” thing, of course, but that’s really only an excuse for a few pseudo-cell camera shots, and green and red letters on black background.

Now, of course this sort of thriller doesn’t necessarily need to be rich in subtext – and I for my part can particularly live without another film telling how devious we poor people are – but Kristy (also known as Random or Satanic during various production stages) just isn’t good enough at being thrilling to be able to convince me. That’s partly because Blackburn isn’t very good at making his bad guys very threatening (which is understandable, giving that one of them is Ashley Greene, who isn’t becoming a better actor just because you put some bad make-up and piercings on her), partly because the film just never really grabbed me. It’s certainly competent in its application of jump scares but falters in the more subtle and more effective art of suspense, leaving this viewer with the feeling of watching something technically competent but completely lifeless, the sort of thing that suggests to me I’d rather have watched a really bad movie than one this competently mediocre.

The only thing that rises above the fold here is Haley Bennett’s performance as the film’s victim turned killer but there’s little the film does with her performance. At times, I got the impression Kristy is this dramatically neutral on purpose, attempting to raise really nobody’s hackles, and certainly eschewing any idea of substance (emotional or intellectual). Seen positively, this is for once a horror movie I have a hard time imagining anyone being offended by. Hooray.

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