directed by: Daniel Liatowitsch,
David Todd Ocvirk
starring: Amy Weber, Donny Terranova, Nichole Pelerine, John Fairlie, Promise LeMarc , Ilia Volokh, Linnea Quigley, Kim Thomas, Todd Beadle, Mari Weiss
(back of video blurb):
" ... Can anyone help me out here? ... "
"How about a nice big cup of shut the fuck up!?"
Relationships in the house go from bad to worse to ...
Recently, during the UK version of BIG BROTHER- the voyeuristic game show where cameras constantly watch every move of ten contestants, the watched were rewarded, for completing one of the tasks they are given to occupy them, with a video. They chose some recent comedy- I wonder what would have happened if some trickster had suggested they watch KOLOBOS? I wonder, because, Daniel Liatowitsch and David Todd Ocvirk's initially intriguing film is BIG BROTHER- shot by Charles Manson.
Told partially in flashback, and through the delirious eyes of a young woman who, whilst stumbling through the dark, is hit by a car. She's, subsequently, taken to hospital where doctors poke and prod her on the operating table in a suitably nightmarish way. Slipping in and out of consciousness she awakes in her room to find doctors and cops talking about her. Looking at her bandaged face they discuss whether or not she's a "cutter" (some of her wounds looking like the effects of self-mutilation), one of them doubting it as, "the kind of pain involved in that kind of mutilation is excruciating". When they leave, the woman sharing the room with the still silent woman says to her, "Shrinks >>and<< cops- have you got trouble!". Later she begins to read personal ads from the paper, and something sparks off in the bandaged woman's mind, and she begins to remember…
One by one we're introduced, via video audition tapes, to five early twenty-somethings who are applying for a place in an experimental film where their every move will be scrutinised by cameras. Tom (Donny Terranova), a buffooning stand up comedian; Tina (Promise LeMarco), an excitable party girl; Gary (John Fairlie) the sensitive student; Erica (Nichole Pelerine), the loudmouth wannabe actress; and Kyra (Amy Weber), a young artist recovering from mental health problems at a half-way house whose cathartic treatment, apparently, is her disturbingly nightmarish drawings she keeps in a large sketchpad.
Tina picks up Kyra from the house- which she jokingly calls the "wacky shack", much to Kyra's annoyance, and notices scars on her wrists. They get to the large snowbound house and once inside they excitedly explore and meet the others and then choose their bedrooms. Whilst in the bathroom Tina unpacks Kyra's wash bag and finds a vial of pills; Kyra catches her and explains that they are only for "anxiety". Tina, however, tells the others that she's a little worried- what if Kyra's a bit unbalanced? Gary tells her she's just being silly and that they should all try to be a bit more understanding. All the time the cameras around the house watch silently.
Meanwhile, alone in the bedroom, Kyra sees the television flicker to life. A face appears on it of a man cutting away the skin of his face with a razor, apparently looking at her he says, "Kolobos is alive!".
Later they meet the film's director over dinner, he good humouredly tells them, "You get the whole house. I get the trailer outback." When he leaves they settle in for the night. Erica asks the group if any of them have seen the movies she's made. None of them have so she fetches videocassettes of her performance as the psycho in the 'SLAUGHTERHOUSE FACTOR', and it's sequels- a cheesy series of low budget slasher movies where she slices 'n' dices her way through groups of partying teens. She's enthralled by her own performance but as the she pops another chapter into the VCR the others in the house quickly loose interest and openly make fun of them. Whilst the ketchup runs free on the television, Tina trots off to the kitchen to fix herself something to eat. All of a sudden spinning blades appear from nowhere and slice into her, and, with a look of shock, she slumps to the floor- her stomach split open; a puddle of blood expanding from underneath her across the linoleum floor. Not quite dead she's quickly discovered by the others who are torn between trying to comfort and tend to the dying woman and escaping from the house. The decision is more or less made for them as shutters slam across the windows and their every means of exit is automatically barred…
This sounds pretty good so far, eh? So it should. KOLOBOS is pretty enthralling in its first half.
Predictably, though no less thrillingly, in the ensuing minutes the remaining housemates panic and soon find themselves at the mercy of the booby-trapped house, and of less tangible terrors. Much of the rest of the film is seen from the point-of-view of Kyra, who perhaps finds her sanity quickly disintegrating with the onslaught of terror as the comfy pad is transformed into a charnel house. The hallucinations (or are they?) that she has so far endured are multiplied in their intensity and occurrence. She finds herself alone when the others have gone off to explore- Tom is just in the next room, but she cannot get his attention when she calls him. Lights go out, figures appear jerking unnaturally their faces a nondescript blur, the house in transformed into a strobing maelstrom of red and blue- only for Tom to appear moments later to say that he'd been there all the time.
Now, whilst the descent into a surrealist nightmare allows for some striking imagery it curiously begins the film's downfall. Certainly, the contestant's battle to escape the house is exciting stuff, and I won't spoil the outcome for you, but as all logic vanishes the story begins to loose focus.
The filmmakers have been ambitious with KOLOBOS, perhaps too ambitious. There's no reason that with their limited budget they shouldn't try and impress, and they do, but when the film reaches its turning point the viewer is literally assaulted with imagery that flashes past so quickly it's hard to catch breath- or, in-fact, make any sense of it. I'm no prude when it comes to nightmare imagery and globules of gore, and, indeed, some of it is pretty impressive, but in this case less would definitely be more. Certainly, the death of Tina was so shocking and so well timed because the viewer had been allowed to settle into a sense of apprehension. After this point there is literally no holds barred and, rather than being shocking, the film descends into a somewhat meaningless montage of stock horror imagery.
But the killer blow comes to the film from its twist ending which is badly misjudged by the film's makers, rather than delight the audience, it ends up making them feel somewhat cheated. Obviously I won't spoil it here for you here, I'll only hint at what's wrong by saying that by dismissing the story's progression and the empathy the audience has built up over the previous 90 minutes only serves to undermine the majority of the film.
Still, having said all of that I would recommend, with reservations, naturally, that you seek out KOLOBOS. There's enough here, not least a nod to the stylistic flourishes of Dario Argento and some evident fledgling talent, to merit a viewing, especially to savour its first half.
BODYCOUNT 10 female:5 / male:5
1) Female gets axed (film within a film)
2) Male stabbed (film within a film)
3) Female stabbed in neck with fork (film within a film)
4) Female killed with axe (film within a film)
5) Male killed with axe (film within a film)
6) Female has stomach split open with spinning circular blade
7) Male suffocated with cling film and then has throat cut
8) Male burnt with acid and has head whacked on sideboard
9) Female has eyeball pierced by deer antlers
10) Male found with face slashed