Monday, December 28, 2015

Merry Kristy

Back in 2008, Oliver Blackburn brought the world his directorial debut, Donkey Punch. As anyone might guess, such a title prompted a fair amount of attention and reminded me of one of Jeopardy!'s all-time greatest moments.

The film itself Looking back at my 2012 review, I found it to be quite well-made, but overall, a rather unpleasant experience that didn't do anything special with its ripe premise. Still, Blackburn's handle on his camera showed some promise, so it seemed worth a try to watch his followup Kristy, now conveniently streaming on Netflix Instant.

Quick Plot: Justine is a hard-working scholarship-and-mess-hall-employed college student planning to spend Thanksgiving weekend on the deserted campus with her wealthier roommate. Wealthier roommate bails at the last minute to join her family in Aspen (as wealthier roommates are prone to do), leaving Justine all alone with the friendly security guard (Keith from Six Feet Under), gate agent, and frozen turkey pot pie.

The lure of Chunky Monkey calls, and Justine hops in her roommate's BMW to the nearby gas station for a fix. Also shopping the aisles is a mysterious hooded young woman who seems uncomfortably interested in Justine, who she prefers to call "Kristy." 

Justine returns to campus a little shaken, but gets utterly trembly when she realizes her gas station pal has followed her home with three masked men and a whole lot of sharp objects. The hunt is on.

Kristy is a very simple film: four killers chase our heroine. While a brief coda of sorts gives us a tiny bit more information about the nature of our villains, this is a cat and mouse game, grounded very specifically in one place, with limited characters to play. 

It works.

With Donkey Punch, Blackburn showed that he could make a decent technical film. Where that film lost me with its script's lack of complexity, Kristy succeeds with an equally sparse story because we're simply caught up in the chase. Justine (as well-played by Haley Bennett) is easy to root for, both for her establishment as a working class underdog and slowly revealed survival skills. She’s smart, she’s quick, and we want to see her win.

High Points 
Even though Kristy is a fairly sparse and simple tale, Blackburn manages to build just enough depth to his characters to make the “hunting” that much sadder

Much credit goes to Francois-Eudes Chanfrault’s score, which has a great pulsating intensity that keeps the tension high

Low Points
While I was fine with the lack of explanation for our killers, I still would have liked a little more differentiation to them. The three silent masked men display no discernible qualities in terms of strength or skill, and it feels like a little opportunity was lost in that area

Lessons Learned
As far as poets go, Blake's a badass

Know your janitor's closets. Love your janitor's closets

Duct tape really does have endless uses


Considering my lukewarm feelings on Donkey Punch, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Kristy. It's hardly unique or innovative, but the overall film moves well, and I was fully invested from start to finish. At just under 90 minutes long, it's a more than decent way to give yourself a few jumps for a nice evening in. 


  1. I hadn't heard of this one so I went and watched it... and... it's pretty good.
    Less so the second half... where it shifted into something less scary.

    It had me thinking of Ritual (2013) for some reason... maybe the similarities/differences in how the cultists are portrayed.

    Thanks for pointing it out!

    1. Haven't seen Ritual, but I do love my cults. May have to give it a go!

    2. I'm not saying it's 'good'... just interesting in the corners.

      Happy New Year!