Not long ago, if you wanted to make a movie and show it in theaters, you needed to have a wheelbarrow full of money. Lacking that, the chances of your movie ever seeing the light of day were between slim and none. However, with the maturation of DSLR camera technology, almost anyone can become a filmmaker. I love the fact that technology has taken something that used to only be the only in the hands of a select few and has opened the gates for everyone.
Enter Abel Berry and his latest film, “Kodie”.
The film opens with a scene of domestic violence: a mother laying in a pool of blood on the floor, a child curled up chanting a wicked singsong mantra. The father sits, drunk and unrepentant, until Kodie comes a-calling. But who is this young lady in a teddy bear costume? That will have to wait as we then cut to a seedy topless club where David (Jayson Champion), a paranormal investigator, glowers. David’s personal life is on a decided downturn but his buddy and fellow investigator, Killian (Michael McGibson) suggests he goes out on one more case. This particular case takes him to a small house in rural Texas to unravel the bloody mystery that surrounds Kodie.
Suffice it to say, “Kodie” isn’t your typical horror movie. Yes, the slasher sub-genre has given us some pretty creative killers, but to date – at least in my tiny mind – I can’t think of one scythe-wielding girl in a teddy-bear outfit. On top of that, the fact that she’s more or less a witch-bound spirit of vengeance makes her that much more interesting.
I have a general rule not to hold small budget films to the same standards of a big-budget film. Obviously, it’s not a fair comparison. So, what I scrutinize most closely when looking at a film like this is the story and unfortunately, the story – or more exactly, the story structure – is the problem. I felt that we went through the first third of the movie with virtually no clue as to what was going on. It presents situations and then leaves it unexplained. It introduces characters with vague hints for behavior but no solid motivation. Many of the scenes felt like they existed only in the vacuum without connecting to a greater whole. It wasn’t until about the 36-minute mark when it hit an “Ah ha!” moment: that moment that distilled meaning into a phrase or event. There were two scenes that put the movie into a nutshell for me and if moved to the beginning of the movie (at least their content) would have given the film much greater cohesion. As they were buried somewhere in the middle, a lot of the emotional weight of the characters and their situations were stolen away. While expecting such craft from a straightforward horror movie may be asking a bit much, it is not wholly unreasonable with a story that had as much promise as this.
“Kodie” is a curious little film that attempts to hurdle the line between the amazing and the ordinary but doesn’t quite make it. However, it does show the promise of indie filmmakers storming the gates to give us something fresh.
If at first you don’t succeed…