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Kalamity is a film with great performances, and an intriguing visual style. It dwells on themes of love, betrayal and friendship that everyone can relate to. It has a lot going for it. So why does it fall so flat?
Nick Stahl plays Billy, a young man who has just broken up with his girlfriend Alice (Beau Garrett) and has come home to spend some time with family and friends to get over the whole affair and put his life to rights. But things are a bit different back home. His friend Stan (Jonathan Jackson) has been dark and moody since he broke up with his own girlfriend Ashley (Alona Tal) a few months ago, and quite recently has gotten downright hostile.
As Billy tries to work through his own troubles, and perhaps patch things up with Alice, he and Christian (Christopher M. Clark), another friend and roommate of Stan's, try to figure out just what is bothering their pal, and driving him to such self destructive behavior. When Stan takes a murderous trip to Cleveland, matters come to a head.
This may all sound a bit vague, and this is by intention not to reveal certain important plot points, but really, nothing much happens in the film. Even though it comes in at about an hour and forty minutes, it's as simple as Stan acting suspiciously, and perhaps killing people, and Billy and Christian worrying about it. Which brings us to the running theme that destroys any verisimilitude, and renders useless the fine performances and obvious talent on the technical side of this film. No one calls the police. If Christian were a normal person, he would have called the police (or at least been more suspicious) when his roommate Stan comes home late wearing a different shirt than he left in and becomes irate when questioned about it. Or if not then, when Stan's ex-girlfriend comes up missing a few days later, the same girl that Christian knew Stan went to see the night of the shirt changing. Or later still, when Billy and Christian find a blood smeared picture of the same girl in Stan's room. But no. They never call the police. They worry and talk about perhaps calling the police and make weak arguments for not calling them. They later find very, very, very convincing evidence that Stan is a murderer, and yet they don't call the police. This reviewer shouted at the screen several times throughout the film, "Why don't you call the police?" But the police are never called.
This is sad, since as stated before all the actors give spot on performances. Nick Stahl and Jonathan Jackson interact well together, believable as old friends, and never give a false note. All of the supporting cast do quite well also. These are professionals who give note perfect turns. But in service to a script that is slow moving and lacking a clear point. Long shots of people staring meaningfully into space are common, as are extended flashbacks that provide information that could be effectively implied in seconds. The truly dramatic material in Kalamity could easily have been presented as a very moving short film. As a feature, it is dull and plodding, and feels stretched thin to accommodate the length. All of the drama is drained out by the too long run time and slow pace and by the central enigma as to why no one calls the police. Kalamity could have been a much better film, and there are a lot of good things about it, but in the end it fails to work. Rent this one.
The video is presented in 1.33:1 standard, and other than some mild aliasing looks good. However, this review is based on a check disc, so no comment can be made on the quality of the final product.
The audio is in Dolby digital 2 channel, and does the job, but is nothing spectacular. Audio is always clearly audible. No subtitles or alternate audio tracks are included. However, this review is based on a check disc, so no comment can be made on the quality of the final product.
No extras are included here. However, this review is based on a check disc, so no comment can be made on the quantity or quality of extras on the final product.
Kalamity has a lot going for it. It has solid performances, interesting themes and a look of quality production. However, none of these can overcome the plodding pace and glaring inconsistencies of the film. While necessary for the story, the fact that no one makes a simple 911 call throughout is utterly unbelievable, and little effort is expended to explain why this never happens. Overall, the film fails to excite.