When I saw the trailer for Killer Kate!, I knew it would be my jam. The trailer was tight and full of great shots of good fun. The feature does not disappoint and the only thing that makes me sad is that Killer Kate! didn’t get wider distribution. This movie is a classic killer in the woods flick, but with a modern lightheartedness that plays very well. It also nails the horror/comedy balance better than anyone has for years.
I can’t quite figure out what caused the lack of distribution traction. Was it bad timing with so many big releases happening in October of this year? Was it because of business dealings gone awry? A lack of buzz at festivals? Whatever the cause, it’s a damn shame. Consider this our call from the mountaintops to check out this fun, bloody rampage through the woods.
Kate and her sister Angie haven’t spoken in years. The silence isn’t the only thing, there’s also the sort of bitterness that can build a wall between siblings. In this case, Angie moved away from their hometown – right at the moment their father was dying. Kate took that personally and reacted poorly. This drove a wedge that was deepened by their father’s passing. Now, Angie is getting married and extends an olive branch. She invites Kate to join her for a bachelorette weekend away and to the wedding that follows. Maybe they can use this time away from the city and their lives to reconnect. Little did they know the decision to choose this particular home in the woods was the first step in the demented plan of a family of killers to trap and kill some unsuspecting guests.
Your sister you haven’t spoken to in years invites you to join a weekend getaway at a remote cabin in the woods on Halloween weekend? What could go wrong? I can’t imagine. Well, while the protagonists have no idea they are walking right into a horror movie trope, the killers seem similarly unaware their victims aren’t so easy to overcome.
“[W]hile the protagonists have no idea they are walking right into a horror movie trope, the killers seem similarly unaware their victims aren’t so easy to overcome.”
Killer Kate! starts out as a touching family drama. Then, it slips into what feels like a formulaic home invasion film, with a family of psychos setting traps and doing all they can ensnare these ladies. This is where things take an unexpected turn. This group of bachelorettes aren’t about to lay down and die, quite the contrary. They rise to the challenge and suddenly – the mouse is chasing the cat.
One of the things this movie does well start to finish is flipping the script. A heartfelt family story turns into a horror film. Perpetrators become victims. The killers end up being the one’s who have to stay calm and ‘keep it together’ to avoid meeting their final demise. The ‘final girl’ isn’t a girl at all. They did all this very naturally and it never feels manufactured or forced.
For example, Kate, who flips from victim to killer, could easily be a wooden, terminator type. As if suddenly the blonde from the suburbs becomes Rama from The Raid. Instead of doing that, Alexandria Feld portrays Kate as a grounded, natural person. She’s not one-dimensional; she’s full of depth. Her actions, words and reactions feel genuine. This is true for most of the great cast, but some standouts in addition to Feld are Danielle Burgess (The Sinner) as Angie and Amaris Davis (Insidious Chapter 3) as Sarah.
Often, good acting is enabled by good writing. The best films are those that come from as close to a singular vision as possible and that vision needs to belong to someone with an interesting perspective and passion for the project. In other words, the best films are made up of a tight nit team with a distinct vision for and passion for bringing the story to life on-screen. This is why great recent films are stories told by fans who become filmmakers, not told by some disconnected executive in an office in Burbank.
Part of why Killer Kate! feels so natural is that it was written and produced by the director, Elliott Feld, and the lead actor, Alexandria Feld. By having the script come from the people with a vision for how to pull it off, you get a script that is grounded and rooted in the actual characters on-screen. Family members David and Lawrence Feld produced and executive produced the film respectively, with David serving as line producer. Similarly, the production design and art direction were helmed by spouses Stephanie and Keith Brewer. Keith’s brother Kevynn did the costume design.
On top of it all, nearly none of these cats have worked on a feature film before. Clearly, Killer Kate! is a labor of love, a story they banded together to tell because they believed it needed to be told. This makes for a flick that is very sincere in its voice. When it’s funny, it really is funny. When it’s brutal, it doesn’t hold back. When it’s touching, you feel it. Put it all together and you’ve got one hell of a watch.
Now, it is true that some of the twists and turns can be spotted a mile away by big fans of the genre. It is also true that it takes a bit long for my taste to get on with the goddamn killing. In the end, though, these things are all nitpicking.
Overall this movie looks great and is clearly the product of a team with a focused vision. The performances are believable, the kills are bloody and the comedy works. It may not be perfect, but it fits well with other great recent horror comedies, and reminded me a ton of the criminally underrated Mayhem. It had one thing even Mayhem didn’t – and that’s relationships the viewer gets truly invested in. I wanted to see these ladies succeed. I wanted to see this sisterly relationship work out. In short, I cared about these badass queens. If you can combine great story, great performances and some damn good fun into a horror romp, you got me.
“I cared about these badass queens.”
If you’re looking for a flick full of action, fun and top-notch filmmaking, Killer Kate! is for you. I personally enjoyed the hell out of it and, damnit, I want that Trans-Am! So, first, please have it delivered to me, I’ll send you the deets. Secondly, please check this movie out and let us know what you thought on social media.
Killer Kate! is in theatres now. To see if its playing near you, check out the film’s website.