Firstly, I’d just like to say thanks to both Feld Films and Co-Writer/Director, Elliot Feld for allowing me early access to an online screener of his new Horror film “Killer Kate!”. Killer Kate sees a non-for-profit worker, Kate (played by Alexandra Feld) reluctantly accept an invitation to a remote cabin for her estranged sister Angie’s (Danielle Burgess) bachelorette party. Along for the ride are Angie’s co-workers Sara and Mel (played by Amaris Davidson and Abby Eiland respectively). What the group doesn’t know is that the siblings of a random family business, led by the hesitant, Jimmy (Grant Lyon) have targeted the girls specifically. What ensues is a life or death battle between the two parties. The film also stars scream queen Tiffany Shepis, Brandon Bales, Preston Flagg and Robert Donavan.
Killer Kate’s high production value ensures that the film be taken seriously, all the more impressive is that this is Elliot’s debut feature-length film. Daud Sani’s cinematography is certainly one of the technical highlights. Everything is nicely framed and competently shot. Both the gentle panning techniques and overall color grading are extremely smooth in nature. A tight edit by young filmmaker Carter Feuerhelm sees to it that Killer Kate never feels like it’s dragging. The audio track is crisp and clear and John Hopkins mighty synth-centric score will go down as another one of my favorites of 2018. One might argue that with the worldwide success of Netflix’s “Stranger Things”, composers are simply just cashing in on the overnight rejuvenation of 80’s synth in movies. Hell, they’d probably be right, but there’s a reason why audiences still love it and it’s because of that sense of nostalgia that kicks in. That said, Hopkins brings his own dramatic ideas to the table, with the inclusion of some lovely somber piano and then fading bass thumps as the situation escalates.
Killer Kate presents as a fairly straight-up horror flick with elements of the slasher thrown in, though there’s a surprising amount of dark humor to proceedings that sadly doesn’t always translate. I’ve seen a few slashers that have played to the setting of a wedding or an engagement party so this is unlikely to be seen as treading new ground. “Hen’s Night”, and even Staci Layne Wilson’s “The Fiance” both come to mind (among others). Most of the cast is serviceable but Lyon delivers quite a fun-filled performance and proves to be the most consistent source of comedy. He happens to look a hell of a lot like fellow actor and funny man, P.J Byrne. As for the humor, some early banter between the family members stands out and the ongoing ski mask gag is quite funny too. The lovely Tiffany Shepis (Victor Crowley) shows off her surprising comedic sensibilities in a brief but enjoyable role. As for the action, it takes more than half the 78 minute run time for the practical blood spray to rear its ugly head. There are a couple of respectable kills involving an ax and a barbed-wire bat, though it turns out that this one isn’t really the type of horror film fans might be expecting.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was caught a little off guard by the tone of Killer Kate. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Horror/Comedy blend but the humor here isn’t present enough to accurately describe it like that, and the violence isn’t really severe enough to see it appropriately labeled a horror/slasher film either. There’s an attempt by Feld to give his protagonist duo of sisters some more depth, but when all is said and done the expression of the material is a rather self-aware one (highlighted by the “this isn’t a movie” line) and it leaves you feeling uncertain. On the creative front, there are a few frames of overly soft lighting and chunks of the dialogue feel immature at times. It may have been Elliot’s intention to have the girls clearly overreact to the sight of a muddy footprint but it wasn’t a logical reaction to the situation, especially considering nothing out of the ordinary happens prior to that to suggest that people were coming to kill them. Unfortunately just about everything else in the film reactive based-wise is steadily undersold. Once again, that might have been the intent, but it can’t help calling into question the validity of the entire format and perhaps the marketing of Killer Kate. The acting isn’t bad by any means but there’s little weight to any of it. It’s never really explained as to why Mel has it in for Kate so badly? It can’t simply just be a jealousy thing because everything displayed in her character core suggests she isn’t the type. It seems as if there’s been an altercation between the two previously and maybe the audience just doesn’t know about it, I’m not sure though. I spent a fair portion of the runtime asking, Why the strained relationship between siblings Kate and Angie? After all, it didn’t appear like there was one instance that served as the reason for their disconnection (maybe their father’s illness?). I discovered that it was likely Angie’s self-absorbed nature that drove the pair apart, an outlook that she seemed completely oblivious too. Kudos to both writers in Feld and Daniel Moya for writing a realistic character, but that said, Angie’s a frustrating watch and I had little sympathy for her when it came to the business end (and I don’t think that was the intention). All signs appear to point to one particular motive regarding the home invasion. Even underlined by some of Angie’s fiance story sharing with her sister, or so I thought. Then out of left field comes an odd head-scratcher of a rationale behind the killings. Let’s just say I don’t think the landing stuck.
Despite its shortcomings, Elliot Feld’s “Killer Kate!” is a decent debut feature-length film. Sani’s cinematography is wonderfully presented, the audio is sharp, and John’s pulsating synth score pulls plenty of creative punches. Some of the comedy is entertaining and the script elements aren’t bad either, even if they are somewhat tonally conflicting. It’s a short runtime with adequate blood splatter and a few kills and I think Grant and Tiffany give the two best performances of the bunch. On the downside, the film doesn’t possess the emotional weight it wants you to think it does and that’s highlighted in a lot of the under and overplayed reactions. Some of the characters decisions are questionable, Angie’s selfish persona is likely to test viewers, and I couldn’t quite work out why there was so much animosity towards Kate, especially given two out of the three girls had never met her prior to the getaway. The motive remains the weakest aspect of Killer Kate and I can’t help but feel a little cheated. Especially when either directly or indirectly, Feld’s all but sets events in motion with a seemingly clear target in mind, one who disappointingly never really becomes that target. With that said, genre fans are still likely to have fun with Killer Kate and may enjoy it even more than I did. The film will be available in theatres and on VOD from the 26th of October. You can check out the trailer below, Enjoy!
My rating for “Killer Kate” is 5/10