Kill Katie Malone
Phase 4 // R // $29.99 // December 13, 2011
Review by Rich Rosell | posted December 24, 2011
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What we have here is a horror film with a catchy title made by a first-time director starring a handful of actors known for their television work (sort of). I have always had a soft-spot for a good old fashioned directorial debut, and as a movie geek I tend to look at these films a bit differently as I try to see the glimmer of potential talent in the making, of someone in the infancy of honing their craft and making their mark. While typically handcuffed by general newbie-ness and budget constraints, naturally all the limitations that come with those unshakable anchors there still could be the opportunity to maybe peer through the virgin-osity to see if there just might be something there.

My guess is that Kill Katie Malone is probably not the film writer/director Carlos Ramos Jr. intended to make in his mind, or at least I hope it wasn't. As a horror film it has a general concept that probably sounded terrific enough at one time, but as with a lot of great ideas the eventual execution leaves something to be desired. The notion that a trio of college students pitch in to buy the ghost of an 18th century servant girl off of an eBay-esque site is the basic setup, with the promise that said servant girl ghost will grant one's every wish. And if we have learned anything from the horror genre it is that such things will understandably go horribly askew, resulting in obligatory death and mayhem for assorted secondary characters until some type of final confrontation and/or zinger ending. Again, it all sounds workable, in a predictably comfortable dumb-fun horror kind of way.

The problems, however, that prevent this from happening are many. Let's start with the cover art, which in no way resembles anything found in Kill Katie Malone. I don't know who that is on the front of the DVD case, but she sure isn't in the film anywhere. Ditto on the flipside, which sports a ghostly demon child screaming while holding a fancy looking skull box. In this instance there is a ghostly demon child that appears briefly, but an ornate skull-adorned box does not. That's a marketing nitpick, but it does set the tone for bait-and-switch that poor Carlos Ramos Jr. likely had no control over. The same applies for the prominence of Dean Cain's name (as if he were actually a draw, no less), which might lead some Cain-heads to believe he was the star here, when in actuality he basically bookends the flick, logging less than five minutes of screentime, at best.

But that's marketing crapola. The film itself - that's on you, Carlos - follows the bread crumb path of countless genre titles before it, presenting a trio of leads who make a bad decision, a few expendables, the pivotal backstory and the requisite open-ended climax. I don't think there will be a 'Katie Malone' franchise anytime soon, but you can't blame a director for trying. As far as the rest of Kill Katie Malone there are illogical gaps best left ignored, lots of talking in ridiculously large dorm rooms, some stock characters and the idea that closeups of a plain wooden box are frightening. By the time we actually see poor Katie Malone she's not especially terrifying, and it's never quite explained how a ghost can cause some of the deaths that take place. The three leads (Steven Colletti, Masiela Lusha, Lil J) aren't going to be up for any Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences awards based on their performances here, but their rapport together is blandly likeable enough that I could almost overlook some of the questionable dialogue falling out of their mouths.

I'm sure Carlos Ramos Jr will get to make another film, and I trust some of the mistakes on display here will be life lessons learned for that next project. Man, I hope so.

The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is noticeably drab, and it doesn't appear to be as part of any larger artistic intent. Colors just seem dingy and lifeless, appearing budgetarily muted. There's just no visual pop in this print, and that doesn't help the enjoyment of this whatsoever.

Audio options are available in either Dolby Digital 5.1 surround or 2.0 stereo. Naturally the 5.1 is the preferred mix, though its inconsistent presentation is more than a bit lackluster. No quibbles with voice quality, but the infrequent use of the rear channels is perplexing, especially considering how well they're utilized, when used that is. Surround cues are sparse, but occasional elements like ghostly voices or clanging pipes create spooky ambience, it's just that they're used too sparingly.

Extras are essentially nonexistent, consisting solely of a trailer for Kill Katie Malone.

Final Thoughts
The feature film debut from writer/director Carlos Ramos Jr. is unfortunately ineffectual B-movie horror-by-numbers, saddled by a low budget, attempts at scares that never quite gel and a general storyline that has big logic holes. From a strictly prurient standpoint the adorable Masiela Lusha and her final act Halloween costume makes this much more tolerable than it should have been.

Maybe next time, Carlos. I so wanted this to be better than it was, but sadly I have to say skip it.

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