The home invasion sub-genre has long since been a staple of horror movies. The idea of someone breaking into your home to try and kill your or worse is a primal, human fear that makes for some interesting stories and has been a tenet of the slasher movie as well. While at ScareLA this year, I was fortunate enough to catch an early screening of one such home invasion flick with a lot of twists and turns, Killer Kate! Exclamation point included.
The story follows Kate (Alexandra Feld) as she begrudgingly joins her estranged sister Angie (Danielle Burgess) and her friends Sara (Amaris Davidson) and Mel (Abby Eiland) for a bachelorette party in the mountains over Halloween for some drinks, cake… and murder. For their own twisted goals, a sinister family are planning on killing the party and the guests dead, not accounting for Kate to give them some hell in return!
Directed by Elliot Feld, Killer Kate! is a home invasion film more in line with a Coen Brothers movie rather than Peckinpah. Unlike a lot of these types of stories, we watch as Kate and company travel to the dangerous cabin simultaneously with the cadre of killers preparing to slaughter them… and their many faults. The bumbling family is sent by their intimidating patriarch, Briskman (Robert Donovan) with the direction led by the anxious, neurotic son, Jimmy (Grant Lyon) who repeatedly states his hesitation about murder. They poison wine bottles, they arm themselves with blades and makeshift weapons. Jimmy’s brother Terry (Brandon Bales) even makes a baseball bat covered with barbed wire he brands ‘Kate’. Small world. But it does give us a perspective fo the killers and shows they’re not too bright at murder, and like something out of Fargo, they are in way over their heads.
Right off the bat, it’s easy to tell that Kate’s going to be our ‘Final Girl’ and she does a well enough in earning the role as the intensity and thrills ratchet up. There’s some decent dialogue between Kate and Angie as they settle their distanced relationship, though that particular sub-plot doesn’t quite fit succinctly with the story, and the first half drags a bit in places. But once all hell breaks loose at the cabin because of Terry’s homicidal enthusiasm, it’s a bloody good time. Each character getting a highlight as the killers plans crumble and the bachelorette party descends into chaos. Especially when the pizza delivery guy (Ashton Jordann Ruiz) gets dragged into the madness.
The film’s modest budget is an easy tell, but it has a lot of heart and a lot of effort can be plainly seen. Jimmy having to rein his psycho siblings in from damaging the premises for certain reasons, but more than likely due to pragmatic production purposes. There’s also a fantastic 80’s style synth score by John E. Hopkins that has a definite John Carpenter influence to really set the mood.
While Killer Kate! isn’t exactly groundbreaking in terms of home invasion movies, it does bring a lot of fun and grim laughs. If you’re looking for some indie horror that stands on it’s own, watch the story of how Kate turns into Killer Kate!
Killer Kate! is comes out October 26th, 2018.