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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Kenneyville (2010)

I tend to favor independently produced horror films over the larger Hollywood studio ones... and I tend to favor Canadian independently produced horror films even more.  They tend to offer more in the way of potential for original ideas and underappreciated talent.  Of course, some show potential, but don't necessarily reach its fullness of being.

While investigating the disappearance of a Toronto woman, Kelly and Charlie discover a clue that leads them to the small town of Kenneyville.  Things turn ugly and desperate when the pair is jumped, and Kelly is kidnapped.  Now, her partner, aided by a local named Donovan, must find her before she suffers the same fate as the woman they set out to find...

I found "Kenneyville" to be a bit of a hit and miss type of movie.  There are some elements that are spot on and extremely well done, while there are others that are just less than stellar.  When creating a surreal, dream-like feeling, or a real feeling of unease, they do a creative job of it.  Two scenes stick out in my mind.  The first involves the character of Kelly after she's been drugged by the evil Dr. Black.  She opens a door and has a un-nerving and weird hallucination.  The removal of colour from the scene, except for touches of it here and there was cool- as was the quick editing and sound.  I was impressed by that particular scene.  The other scene is a bit more simple, but also disturbing at the same time.  It's when the demented Victoria has Donovan in the barn.  All you see is the light from a cam corner, Donovan's face, and her hand wearing a surgical glove.  The way she touches him made me a little uncomfortable... again, I was impressed. While there are skillful and creative moments like that, the camera work in general was a little bland.  The film quality also seemed to skip from crisp and glossy, to dul and lifeless almost randomly.  This, for me at least, kept me from feeling the constant tension needed to be engaged by what was happening.

I found it hard to keep myself interested in the predicament that our heros were in for another reason.  I couldn't relate to them very well.  We learn practically nothing about them during the movie.  There was really no reason to care about them, to be honest.  Vanessa Broze did an okay job with the character of Kelly, but she really didn't DO much beyond get tied up, stuffed in a trunk, and get stripped down to her bra.  To be fair to her, she didn't have much to work with in regards to character development... or lines for that fact.  Charlie- played by Dany Gehshan, was just as bad in his lack of any real depth to his character.  The two seemed kinda like a cheap Skully and Mulder set-up to me.  The character of Donovan, as performed by Doran Damon, made me shake my head, since he seemed to be a stereotypical hick, who only served as transportation for Charlie.  With the accent he used, I couldn't tell if the story was taking place in Canada, or the US.

Even though "Kenneyville" had some fairly lackluster performances, there were two performers that made their moments worthwhile.  The first was Irena Angelousta as the demented Victoria.  She truly made me uncomfortable and nervous.  Good performance, and great look to the character.  The scene with Donovan with the camcorder made me feel creeped out, especially.  The other stand out perforner- though even he was far from spectacula, was Michael Scrath as Dr. Adrian Black.  He looked great in the role, and added some dimension to his charcter with his mannerisms.  Of the characters, his was the most developed... but not much beyond, "I'm an evil, evil man..."

Most of the problems above in regards to the characters (and possibly indirectly, the acting), lie with the story and script.  The premise was decent enough for a start:  Detectives search for a woman in a town, and learn a dark secret.  There's potential there.  The problem is that the story doesn't really go beyond that much, and relies on cliches that you'd find in some of the movies from the 1980's.  I felt that there were some rather large plot holes and loose ends as well.  They introduce a box that Dr. Black needs to complete his experiments... but he somehow manages to complete them without the box.  There's a maxim in story writing that if you discuss a rifle on the wall of a study, you damn well better make sure that rifle gets used at some point.  There are just TOO many questions ignored in this movie regarding WHY the townsfolk simply let things like this happen,what was the "family" that kept getting spoken off, why did Dr. Black need so much rusty and most likely useless machinery when his experiements seemed to involve a drill, a needle, milk, and pills?  I found myself constantly questioning the logic behind the events going on.  Simply put, I didn't feel a sense of cohesion and natural progression in the events taking place.

As I said at the start, "Kenneyville" had potential, but simply didn't fulfill it to my satisfaction.  I hope that the director, Brooks Hunter continues producing film in order to hone the skills I saw in a couple of the scenes.  If he does, he could very well produce some really good stuff down the road.  For now though, I'm going to have to place, "Kenneyville" in "The Ugly," though I'll say it IS worth one viewing at least.

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