“Kristy” (2014). Directed by Oliver Blackburn. Starring Haley Bennett, Ashley Greene, Lucas Till. College chick Justine works too hard and stays on campus during Thanksgiving break, only to run into a bunch of psychos that mark her for a sacrificial death. Will she survive? Or will she become another Kristy?
“Kristy” is a fairly solid thriller. There’s real talent behind the camera, as evidenced by some genuinely terrifying suspense and sweet cinematography, but a key performance feels a bit underwhelming.
Fun Fact: This quasi-slasher psychological horror film was titled “Random” and then “Satanik” prior to release.
It follows a cult of freaky misfits who terrorize and kill young women they call Kristy. It doesn’t matter what a victim’s actual name is. Any super gorgeous 20-something can be a Kristy, meaning a part of Christ. With every murder, the cult believes it is killing a piece of God.
After the terror, torture and deaths, the cult’s hooded ringleader Violet uploads footage of the sick adventures to an underground website called “The Fold” where even the video buffering symbols look like pentagrams.
Now that’s Satanic!
Justine works in the campus cafeteria and studies hard, because she’s a good student. After is left alone for the holiday week by her friends and boyfriend, she takes advantage of the empty buildings to dance and play baseball in the corridors, swim in the campus pool and hangs out with the friendly security guys.
While scooping up some late night snacks at a convenience store, Justine sees Violet in a purple hoodie trashing fashion magazines as a means of railing against the worship of rich and pretty people.
When Justine tries to pay for sunglasses that Violet wants, her Rich Girl money is refused and she is marked as a Kristy.
Ah, jeez. It’s just that easy.
After that first run in with Violet, Justine returns to the dorm only to have the power shut down. Her laptop shows footage of a terrified victim of The Fold cult being held down and murdered, just before the monster-masked cult members reveal themselves and the chase begins through the pitch black university buildings.
A friend who comes to Justine’s aid is axe murdered before her eyes and Violet advises her to, “Run, Kristy. Run to God.”
And run she does.
The bulk of the film’s running time is a swift game of Hide and Seek in the massive college library, metallic kitchen and finally the pool area. Here, Justine begins building weapons from everyday objects and finally turns the tables on the vicious gang, engaging in a stunningly filmed struggle at the bottom of the pool with one of her attackers.
I love good underwater photography.
I found Justine’s homemade weapons and clever methods of confusing her assailants more believable than the fact that this cult had been so successful that they had nabbed dozens of victims and were never killed or caught themselves. They just aren’t that intelligent. When faced with adversity, they die a lot. The film racks up a fair body count involving stabbing, hanging, death by car crushing, death by axe, spiked baseball bat to the brain and napalm.
During the finale, an obvious and troubling secret is revealed about the cult and how widespread they are, possibly meant to set up a sequel. After the end credits, there’s a brief final scene which tells us what we already know.
Haley Bennett, who plays Justine, is excellent. Her performance is understated and believable and not at all the typical bimbo co-ed archetype usually stalked by crazies in these flicks. She’s so good, in fact, that it causes an imbalance issue when she encounters the evil Violet.
“Twilight” star Ashley Greene plays the sickly pale and sadly unthreatening Violet. Instead of coming off as dangerously unpredictable, psychotic and vindictive, she seems more like she just took a few sedatives and is super chill. Although Miss Greene has many fans, her talents just aren’t up to really bringing this character to life. It’s a case of miscasting. And the imbalance between strong and weak performances is obviously much more pronounced when Justine and Violet are interacting. This role needed to be as memorable and charismatic as Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight”, an inspired bolt of lightning that shakes the film up. If we can’t believe in the threat of Violet, the power of her dark intentions is lost.
In addition to all that Satanic nonsense, Violet is an impoverished townie preying on wealthier college students. So there’s an element of socio-economics at play. She’s angry about all the cool stuff her victims have — nice clothes, cars, dorm rooms — while she drives around town in a rust bucket junker with her crazy cult minions. Apparently, these nut jobs think there’s no male equivalent of a rich, entitled Kristy. Why only target women? Men have beautiful cars, fat wallets and salon quality hair, too. When the newest Kristy asks why she’s being attacked, Violet replies “You have a pretty car and pretty hair.”
Next time, Violet, go after the Kardashians, please. Thanks.
After the lack of a domestic theatrical release and the title changes, I feared the worst. But there’s a lot to like here. Scary moments in the darkness with cultists jumping out, inventive and unique cinematography such as in a scene where a character leaps from a tall building and falls in POV, creepy masked bad guys who cement their dastardly evil by killing a dog, Haley Bennett’s heroine, the fog bank that obscures the killers as they whistle at Justine and much more.
Don’t let Ashley Greene’s lack of intensity put you off catching this one. It’s worth it.