[Review] ‘Hell’s Kitty’ Awkwardly Lives up to Its Premise
Any cat owner can tell you that felines are fickle (yet lovable) creatures with fluffy little minds of their own. The mysterious and independent nature of these pets is probably behind their frequent presence in the horror genre, which is something that Nicholas Tana obviously understands, having written, directed and starred in the comic-book turned web-series turned feature-film, Hell’s Kitty.
Featuring Angel the cat as herself, Hell’s Kitty tells the story of Nick, an unfortunate screenwriter cursed with a possessive pet who refuses to let anyone get between them. After a series of feline-related deaths, Nick decides that it might be time to consult with some experts, though Angel isn’t looking forward to an exorcism. As the body count starts rising, it becomes apparent that this demonic kitten isn’t going down without a fight.
While the story and characters are admittedly pretty thin, you’ve got to give Tana some credit for the mileage he gets out of the “Killer cat” shtick. The deaths are hilariously absurd, and there are still a few supernatural twists and turns that make things even more ridiculous (in a good way). At the very least, even the most critical viewers have to admit that Hell’s Kitty lives up to its amusing premise.
That being said, the movie succeeds more as a series of comically gory moments rather than as a properly paced film. The low production value, coupled with a weirdly structured script, results in a collection of (admittedly enjoyable) scenes that don’t naturally flow into each other like they should. It almost feels like the film hasn’t really left its web-series roots behind, considering the episodic nature of the plot.
Speaking of low production value, some of the ADR was also strangely distracting during a good chunk of the film, which might annoy some viewers. Personally, I found that the peculiar sound design ultimately enhanced the B-movie feel of the picture, but I might be in the minority on that.
Either way, much of the humor does fall flat, especially when some scenes feel like an excuse to dish out horror movie references and cameos. The film still manages to be fun despite this, however, with the sheer quantity of gags making up for some of the bad ones. Besides, it’s hard not to crack a smile when everyone from Children of the Corn’s John Franklin to The Shape of Water himself, Doug Jones, makes a quirky appearance. It’s clear that a lot of love went into this production.
It may have its flaws, but Hell’s Kitty is still weirdly enjoyable, not despite its limitations but perhaps because of them. The film is creative enough to overcome a few instances of muddled direction and plot, and the awkward B-movie vibe end ups adding a lot of much-needed charm. This might not be the definitive killer cat picture, but it’s still certainly worth a watch if you don’t take things too seriously and accept it for what it is.
Hell’s Kitty will be available on VOD March 13th!