BluRay/DVD Reviews


By • Feb 28th, 2006 •

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(Digital Studios) 2004. 100 mins

Taken from a premise that gestated in the director’s mind for many years, KB is an intense, interior/exterior psychodrama that hinges on two elements for success – performances, and the aesthetic/emotional power of digital technology.

Helene Udy as the passionate but homicidal adult KatieBird, is good, coming into her own in the second half. Taylor M. Dooley as the adolescent KB is utterly galvanizing. Doubtless direction helped, but this actor has ‘got it.’ Some very difficult passages in the film were handled with award-calibre aplomb by Ms. Dooley. She’s compelling to look at, intuitive and quick, and off-beat sexy, and it’s her performance that finally makes the film what it is, which is a serious contender for indie release of the year. Next line for acting honors is Lee Perkins as KB’s father – a veteran thesp reminiscent of J.T. Walsh , who died too young, and whose cinematic shoes Perkins should consider filling – he embodies the sick-at-the-core sociopath whose parental imperative both spares his daughter and nurtures her in the belief that she will mature into an awareness of their shared psychotic-genetic traits. JunHee Lee is also effective as the hapless school mate who becomes KB’s first victim, but the weak link is Todd Gordon as Dr. Richardson. He projects the repelling uptightness of a certain kind of shrink, but not the profession’s resourcefulness or even the rudimentary insights into abnormal psychology.

Director Ritter says he was inspired by the horror films of the 1970s, but his hypnotic-if- overlong montage sequences, scrambled with De Palma-on-uppers digital multi-image frame manipulation, is more reminiscent of experimental filmmakers of recent decades. I take exception to the vanity-length of scenes, extended by complicated digital designs well beyond necessity, but fortunately for Ritter, Ms. Dooley carries her sequences with ease.

The warm, lurid, expressionistic colors are highly effective, as are the visceral make-up effects. Nudity is consciously avoided, and while it is true that in many serial killer MO’s, sex is not the object, and therefore one could make a case for the omission of flesh being a thematic choice, still a little nudity might have punctuated the pacing.

This is definitely one to catch up with. And there is no doubt in my mind that writer/director/editor Ritter, and the indelible Ms. Dooley, are going places. I hope we’ll be seeing more of their work soon. It would be an industry-wide blunder if we didn’t. It’s about time we had a new Sissy Spacek.

Putting KATIE BIRD into serial killer sub-genre perspective, it isn’t as good as HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER, but then neither are SEVEN or SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, and in its best scenes, this is as good as either of those heavyweights.

Directed, written, and edited by Justin Paul Ritter.
Cinematography by Josh Fong.
Music by Daniel Iannantuono.
Make-up and Hair by June Yamada

With: Taylor M. Dooley, Helene Udy, Lee Perkins, JunHee Lee.

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