A thematically challenging, cinematically daring resurrection of the much maligned, increasingly inept psychological horror sub-genre, this harsh yet strangely poetic thriller is nothing less than a bold revision of that particular genre’s stale conventions.
Defying expectation and achieving more shock and honest-to-god suspense than movies with three times its meager budget, KATIEBIRD * CERTFIABLE CRAZY PERSON is a surprisingly serious chiller. While certainly not flawless, exposing occasional gaps in characterization and story logic in its obvious desire to bombard the viewer with viscous violence and generous helpings of perversion, this mean-spirited shocker is a wonderful example of intelligent exploitation filmmaking. It’s also an undeniably self reflective tragedy of Self and cultural condemnation, revealing in its twisted fervor a filmmaker’s daringness to explore serious questions of abuse and personal responsibility while cranking out its discomforting thrills. Subversive in an age of horribly incorrect political correctness, thumbing its nose at our age’s diluted sensibility, this quality emotional ball-kicker seeks no friends and takes no prisoners!
Featuring KatieBird Wilkins, just one of several recent female serial killers let loose to compete in the bloody Olympics with their skin slicing male counterparts, the story, decently scripted, is a sickly entertaining ode to dysfunctional family life, emotional vivisection, and the transforming pain of rage. Reliving the events leading to her first killing during a final therapeutic session with Dr. Mark Richardson, her psychologist (and lover), KatieBird Wilkins is the physical embodiment of pain and fury – all instilled within her during a lifetime of degrading relationships and a mentally unbalanced upbringing.
In his debut, Justin Paul Ritter, director/writer/producer/editor, adds psychological depth to Katie’s delirious mental state by utilizing daring visuals such as experimental angles and cutting, including split screen and multi-paneled photography. Using the changing shape of image to mirror the internal chaos of character, the presentation of ideas captures psychological confusion and growing rage. While this stylistic excess runs the risk of alienating viewers weaned on linear storylines and prosaically still camera work, its technological embodiment of Katie’s fragmented, warped perspective is effective rather than showy, inviting the viewer into the madness. This is a rare instance where an expressionistic approach actually supports content.
Admirable, if occasionally overreaching, acting by Helen Udy as the adult KatieBird and Taylor Dooley as her teenage incarnation, leads demanding roles believability and pathos, while the bloody-good effects work will satisfy gorehounds. Uncompromisingly brutal, the camera stares unblinkingly at scenes of violence. The director suggests a relationship between sexual release and death as Katie often brings herself to physical ecstasy and emotional nirvana. Pushing beyond genre expectations and conventions of good taste, this movie dares all. While the story is well written and plotted, visual imagery and sheer style are the movies strongest points, and ones which the DVD admirably captures, exhibiting surprisingly expert lighting and overall clean picture quality that make the picture look better than a digital movie should.
Heretic Films should be commended for its packaging and choice of extras. They approach KATIEBIRD with respect, not the apathy evident in so many larger DVD companies. Extras include a lively commentary, thoughtful liner notes, a Heretic promo reel, a feature entitled “Movies NOT Excuses” with the contagiously intense Director, and, as a generous bonus, a second disk with the movie’s soundtrack. Overall, this DVD is an impressive package of a bold movie, which surmounts its low budget technical origins with a story as viscous as it is involving.
William P. Simmons
Directed by: Justin Paul Ritter
2005 / 100 Minutes / Colour
Starring: Helene Udy, Taylor M. Dooley, Nicole Jarvis, Todd Gordon, Jeff Hee Lee, and Lee Perkins
Format: DVD (Region 1, NTSC)
KATIEBIRD * CERTIFIABLE CRAZY PERSON