Thursday, 19 January 2012

Kolobos (1999)

A low budget American movie that’s a little bit too ambitious for its own good, KOLOBOS starts with an amateurishly filmed car accident but rapidly gets much better from there. The victim of the accident is teenager Kyra (Amy Weber). Battered and bandaged, she lies in a hospital bed while flashbacks give us her memories of how she ended up there. Discharged from a halfway house for the rehabilitation of patients with mental disorders and with the scars on her arms suggesting a history of self harm, Kyra answers a newspaper advertisement to take part in a low budget backwoods USA film version of Big Brother. Once inside she gets to meet her housemates which include a poor standup comedian, a struggling actress, a college student and a girl who works in a fast food joint. It isn’t long before steel shutters have turned the house into a prison and booby traps are picking them off one by one. But all is not at it seems, and who is the mysterious figure Kyra keeps seeing on the television screen, the one persistently mutilating his own face? 
Starting with a title sequence and music reminiscent of Argento at his SUSPIRIA-like best, there are a lot of nods to that classic in KOLOBOS, including the use of weird coloured lighting filters and everyday objects filmed from unfamiliar angles. Images of figures distorted by frosted glass, hospital curtains and the like abound, and as the film goes on the movie’s deliberate sense of clouded reality increases. It’s nowhere near as stylish as the Argento classic, but directors Daniel Liatowitsch and David Todd Ocvirk obviously have great affection and appreciation for the genre, and even if their bleeding-eyed doctors do get a bit too sub-Fulci at times, it’s in a good way. Oddly enough the movie I was most reminded of while watching KOLOBOS was Norman J Warren’s TERROR, in that it employs much the same Argento-aping style to tell a story that doesn’t really make sense but by the end you don’t really mind because it’s been such a fun ride anyway. Neither director seems to have been at the helm of anything else, which is a shame as the movie should have been a springboard to greater things. KOLOBOS (and I’m not really giving anything away by saying the word translates from the classical Greek for mutilated) is no classic but it’s certainly not hackwork, and is worth 84 minutes of any discerning horror fan’s time.

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