I’ll come right to the point; when I found out I was reviewing a short film called Killer Kart, by James Feeney, I was immediately skeptical. Images of the Mario video game bounced around in my head, or maybe some Camp Blood-style ode to Mad Max…however, I know that filmmakers can come up with some interesting themes from time to time, and I’m always willing to give things a shot.
Then, I saw the poster art…
A shopping cart? Really?
Ah well, I figured, at least it’s only fifteen minutes…
A neighborhood supermarket is closing down for the day, the last of the customers have gone, and the night crew is beginning the requisite counting, cleaning, and re-stocking of shelves. Cass, a young woman on her first night as closing manager, is a little nervous. Having only one of the other cashiers, Bailey, the stock boy (and her boyfriend), Ryan, and the longtime, grizzled maintenance man Hale on her crew, she’s anxious to do a good job. Problems with the intercom and power flickering serve to exacerbate her stress, but it’s not long before she realizes she has a much greater problem; a rogue killer is among them, and starting with Ryan it begins a bloody rampage throughout the darkened market. Hale seems to have some cryptic notion as to what is going on, but with only a reciprocating saw and a mop handle to defend themselves, will any of them be able to survive the onslaught of the vicious, single-minded assailant?
If all of that sounds pretty formulaic, it’s because it is. You Fellow Fans have seen all of this before in a lot of other movies…but in this case, the killer is a shopping cart. You read that right; a steel basket on wheels that, in my part of the world, is often referred to as a “grocery buggy”. Shopping carts, you see, are growing tired of being abused; they live to serve us, and are only mistreated in return. As a result of this, “Every now and then,” Hale says, “one of them just snaps”. What Feeney brings us with this antagonist is a metal wire killing machine on four hard-rubber wheels; it’s bloody, it’s vicious…and by golly, it’s great. The direction and acting is spot-on for this sort of horror flick, without any humorous tongue-in-cheek overtones; it’s played out the same as if the baddie was an alien monster, an axe-murderer, or a ghostly clown. Each actor delivered solid, convincing performances, without so much as a beat of comedic intrusion; of particular note were the parts of Cass, played by Christine Rodriguez, and Hale, played by veteran Ray Bouchard. Rodriguez’s character went through a lot of changes in a short time, but it was all a convincing progression; it never seemed forced. Bouchard played out the “tough old bastard that knows a thing or two” perfectly; he was truly the “Quint” of this short.
The camera work in the film was textbook ’80s horror; the shots were well-done and creative. The only complaint I would have is that some of the hand-held work was a little too bouncy for my tastes, but those sequences were brief and certainly didn’t taint the film for me. There’s only a couple of gory scenes, but I thought they were very satisfying and impressive considering the format and budget; the generous splattering of blood and entrails should give the hounds a smile.
This fifteen-minute movie will take you back to the glory days of sheer horror movie fun; I was reminded of several older flicks, among them Intruder, Manitou, Maximum Overdrive, and even a touch of Alien. The style of the film drew upon elements from those kinds of classics, but the off-the-wall adversary kept it fresh and original. The fact that Feeney chose to play it completely straight is what really gives the movie it’s flair; the story is related as a “this is what’s happening” presentation, and the short-film format allows this to be done without so much as a wink to the audience. A full-length feature using the same scenario would bog down under its own pretentiousness, trying to factor in explanations, reasons why: some kind of bullshit space virus or voodoo curse, most likely; such tropes would ruin the vibe of the film. Like any good short, Killer Kart gives you the situation; here it is…the whys, hows, and what nexts are up to you.
I’ll have my slice of humble pie with a little crow on the side now; despite my inital reservations, I had a really good time with this one, peeps. This flick isn’t trying to be the next Halloween or Phantasm, it’s not asking you to stress yourself with complex twists or outsmarting itself with some high-minded conceptuality; it’s just a very well-made short film doing what I for one really enjoy when horror films do…
See it if you get the chance.
JUST CLICK HERE
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