[review by JA Kerswell]
|Justine (Haley Bennett) is in the wrong place at the wrong time when she comes into the orbit of Violet (Ashley Greene) and her friends in KRISTY.|
English director Olly Blackburn’s KRISTY is a rip-roaring, pulse-pounding slice of mayhem that just doesn’t give up. If you’ve ever criticised a slasher film for not having enough chase scenes, then this movie is for you. A mix of dorm slasher and home invasion movie, this high-octane tale of a young student hunted by cultists on a mostly deserted college campus was unfairly overlooked on its release and deserves a wider audience.
Justine (Haley Bennett) is one of the few people left behind for the Thanksgiving holidays on her campus. Working jobs at the college and trying to save money, she decides to stay put and hunker down with her roommate Nicole (Erica Ash). Even her boyfriend Aaron (Lucas Till) has to leave to be with his family. However, a last-minute decision by Nicole to go to Aspen leaves her further isolated - with only security guard Wayne (Mathew St. Patrick) for company.
At a loose end, Justine decides to borrow Nicole’s car and head to the nearby gas station for snacks. There she encounters a strange young woman wearing a hoodie, Violet (Ashley Greene), who gives her the creeps. Feeling unnerved she heads back to campus but is menaced by the car Violet is travelling in - which also contains an unknown number of other people.
|KRISTY brings to mind 80s dorm slashers - as well as contemporary home invasion movies.|
Arriving home, Justine tells Wayne about the strange encounter and he says he will warn the gate guard and keep an eye out. However, she soon discovers that she has been followed back to the campus and is now in an unwitting game for her life …
Over half of the running time of KRISTY is chase scenes - as Justine tries at first simply to escape her pursuers and eventually attempts to turn the tables on them. The film plays on fears both ancient and modern - the fear of being chased by a predator and the fear of modern technology being used against us. In a prologue, we see the dead body of another college student killed by the same group - who upload their murders to a group on the Dark Web. Apart from Violet, the other attackers wear masks that look like they have been made from bacofoil, with just holes for eyes. They are brutal, anonymous and methodical, and Justine needs all her wiles to avoid becoming their next victim. The film doesn’t answer all the audience’s questions. Who is Kristy? And why does Violet constantly refer to Justine by that name? Although it is established that there is a cult of serial killers, their motivation is hazy - beyond destroying what they perceive as ‘apple pie’ wholesomeness.
Still, this doesn’t really matter - as the film intended as a suspense piece. And, in that, it exceeds expectations. Beautifully shot on a fog-bound and deserted campus; there is something especially eerie about a location usually bustling with life that now is a desolate backdrop for the hunt.
|The Bacofoil killer strikes again!|
KRISTY nods back to films such as THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (1932) (where a hunter purposely strands a group of tourists so he can hunt them for sport) and dorm/school/sorority slashers such PROM NIGHT (1980), THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD (1982) and THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW. It also has similarities with THE STRANGERS (2008), THE PURGE (2013) and the excellent home invasion horror YOU’RE NEXT (2011). Plus so-called ‘hoodie horrors’, including the French movie THEM (2006) and the British slasher F (known as THE EXPELLED in the US) (2011). Another British example was the devastating EDEN LAKE (2008), where a group of delinquents menace a couple camping. Although those films arguably express a fear of out-of-control youth, KRISTY’s villains have a much more shadowy motivation - and the film suggests a network of similar psychos across the country utilising high tech to catch their prey.
Bennett is excellent as the terrified - but eventually vengeful - college student (in a role originally intended for Emma Watson). Tony Jaswinski’s spec script was purchased by Dimension Films in 2009, before entering Development Hell. At various times the project was called SATANIC and RANDOM (the title it was filmed under). KRISTY was eventually lensed in 2013 in New Orleans - including at Tulane University and Tad Gormley Stadium. Dimension Pictures - who had hit the slasher big time with the SCREAM series - financed the movie. Harvey Weinstein is infamous now for a lot of things, but he was also well known for meddling - and KRISTY was re-edited ahead of a domestic cinema release (which never happened and it was released straight to streaming). Although, it was released theatrically in some overseas territories.
Arguably, because of the meddling and dithering KRISTY missed the boat after a rash of similarly themed horror movies. It is a real shame, as it was never given the chance to connect with cinema audiences domestically - and deserves much more recognition as a top-tier modern slasher movie. Recommended.
female: 3 / male:7
1) Female body seen with throat cu
2) Female stabbed to death
3) Male beaten to death
4) Male found dead
5) Male strangled with hose (off screen)
6) Male run through with a machete
7) Male crushed by car<
8) Male has neck broken with baseball bat
9) FMale hit in the back of his neck with spiked club
10) Female burns to death
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