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Kill Katie Malone (2010)
Phase 4 Films
Blu-ray Disc Released: 12/13/2011
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 12/16/2011
No other genre embraces technology like horror movies. When something new in the field of electronics comes along, someone making a scary movie will find a way to incorporate it. The internet certainly didn't escape this, as it's been prominently featured in movies like Feardotcom, Untraceable, and Cry_Wolf, amongst many others. These films have shown how the world wide web can be used to stalk victims or transmit the supernatural. In some of these films, the "net" is a vague entity, however in Kill Katie Malone, an ebay like website becomes the catalyst which launches the horror. But, hasn't this been done before?
Kill Katie Malone introduces us to college roommates Jim (Stephen Colletti) and Dixie (Jonathan "Lil' J" McDaniel) and their friend Ginger (Masiela Lusha). During a particularly dull night, Jim goes on an internet auction website and finds a ghost for sale. As a joke, he bids on it and wins. Of course, Dixie and Ginger think that Jim is crazy (but that doesn't stop them from loaning him money for hte purchase). A few days later, a small wooden box arrives. Jim opens it to find a locket inside, but no ghost. He assumes that the whole thing was a scam. However, that night, something wreaks havoc in Jim and Dixie's room and causes similar damage in Ginger's room. Soon after that, those who have crossed or disappointed Jim, Dixie, or Ginger begin to die in horrible ways. Jim begins to realize that there really is a ghost present and that he must find a way to stop it.
Buy a ghost on-line? That sounds like a pretty original idea, doesn't it? Well, no, it doesn't, as that was the premise of Joe Hill's (son of Stephen King) 2007 novel Heart-Shaped Box. My wife has read the book and said that the novel and movie aren't similar other than the central premise, but that is one huge similarity. The problem with this bit of the story in Kill Katie Malone is how innocuous and unimportant it seems. We barely meet the three main characters when Jim is buying a ghost simply out of boredom. Does he buy a lot of things on-line? Is he into the occult? We don't know. The movie simply opens (sort of) with Jim buying a ghost for no apparent reason. The movie is asking us to buy into it without having given us anything.
From there, Kill Katie Malone is very standard fare. This is the kind of movie which never makes any major mistakes. (Other than the aforementioned question of how you loan money to someone for an on-line purchase and the fact that the locket contains a photograph and we later learn that it's from a time which pre-dates photography.) Once the movie gets going, there is some minor character development and everyone's motivations make sense, but the film is simply never engaging. First-time Director Carlos Ramos Jr. stages some interesting fright scenes, but the rest of the movie is incredibly flat. The editing could use some tightening up and at several times during the 91-minute running time I felt as if I was wading through the scenes.
There are issues with the script as well, aside from the premise, which does come off as hokey. Once the movie sets up the idea that those around Jim, Dixie, and Ginger will die, the story become very predictable. The deaths themselves show some creativity, but from the middle on, we are simply waiting for certain characters to reach their demise. The ghost's motivation for killing is muddled at best. Ramos Jr. and Co-screenwriter Mark Onspaugh trot out a backstory for the ghost which is meant to have some historical significance, but it doesn't explain much. The twist ending doesn't do much for the film, and a subplot concerning Ginger's attraction to Jim simply slows things down more.
If you are attracted to Kill Katie Malone because of Dean Cain's name on the box, don't waste your time, as he's in the film for less than 5 minutes. As for the young cast, they do OK for this type of movie. As a fan of ghost movies, I had high hopes for Kill Katie Malone. The movie contains a few good visuals, but a overly linear story and a lack of plot twists really hurt the film. Perhaps I should send this movie to ebay...
Kill Katie Malone offers what I pretty sure was a Halloween party which is then followed by a Halloween party on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Phase 4 Films. The movie has been letterboxed at about 2.00:1 (I couldn't get an exact measurement), although the box states that it's 1.78:1. This is clearly wrong and I don't think I've ever seen a movie framed like this. The Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 23 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing little grain and no defects from the source material. Video noise is at a minimum here. The image has a nice crispness to it which suggests that it was shot on HD. The only real drawback here is that some scenes a darker than others. The action is always visible, but the look is inconsistent. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.4 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The low bitrate results in a track which can get loud, but isn't very detailed. For example, the dance scene provides strong subwoofer and music from the rear speakers, but individual sounds aren't distinct here. Front channel audio is certainly present, but I didn't note any impressive stereo effects.
The lone extra feature on the Kill Katie Malone Blu-ray Disc is a TRAILER for the film.
Review Copyright 2011 by Mike Long