As another generation- namely mine- starts to make itself more and more prominent, we seem to be at a point in time where it’s all about us. Me, me, me. Social media dominates everything; ‘selfies’; free and available pornography; everything is captured on a camera, whether we like it or not. We filmed and capture everything we do- every mistake, every triumph, every mundanity- and broadcast it all over the world, forever imprinted on that crazy behemoth we know as the internet. Every generation has certain films that define it. And this generation has just added a new work of fiction to define it- King Kelly.
Andrew Neel’s feature is equal parts demented caper, wicked satire and horror film. The basic premise is that our lead character, ‘King’ Kelly, is a Cam Girl who pleasures herself for her viewers’ Tips. On the cusp of leaving the Cam Site to start up her own website, she and her ADHD companion Jordan (Libby Woodridge) go on the hunt for a haul of narcotics concealed in the trunk of Kelly’s car, taken back by its rightful owner, Kelly’s ex Ryan (Will Brill). As the drug-fuelled night descends further into chaos, Kelly meets her biggest fan once she’s at her wit’s end- psychotic and unhinged State Ranger ‘Poo Bare’ (Roderick Hill).
The pacing manages to be both fluid and breakneck, never letting up to let you catch your breath whilst managing to reveal enough about its characters and their motivations to make you invest in their delirious adventure. It’s tough trying to create enough meaningful content in such a brisk running time to avoid the viewing experience being shallow and forgettable, but between Director Neel, Writer Mike Roberts and Editor Brad Turner, King Kelly manages to soar well above that.
There isn’t a single aspect of the production that lets the rest down. The camerawork never gets nauseating- if anything the visual quality of the film from both a practical and cinematography. It’s very obvious that Woodridge and Hill are relishing their roles. They are almost as troubling as Kelly, and seem to balance naivety with lunacy, constantly battling with their own psyche.
Despite being about a self-publicising girl who exploits herself over the internet who binges on drugs whilst trying to retrieve drugs in order to avoid death, this is a film with some serious brains behind it- it manages to raise philosophical, moral and psychological debate, all whilst including nudity, incompetent authority figures and a total lack responsibility from pretty much every character we meet.
As innovative as the film is, and as sterling a job as the supporting cast do, this film totally belongs to its eponymous protagonist, if she can be called that. Louise Krause’s turn as Kelly herself is a revelation- at once despicable and vain, against your better judgment you start to feel for her over the course of the film. It’s almost like The Frankenstein Effect- Kelly is a product of her generation, so responsible is she for her actions? Perverts feed her ego and nobody attempts to stop her in her tracks.
Kelly has an unnerving habit of staring at the camera, caressing her lips with her thumb in a smooth and constant motion- this is one of the few moments she unintentionally bares what little soul she has. It’s subtleties like this that should put her up there with the likes of Travis Bickle, Tony Montana and Tyler Durden for beloved pop culture nutjobs who adorn the bedroom walls of… well, of post-ironic kids like Kelly.
Krause’s Kelly, and everything she represents here, is an unpredictable cocktail of tragedy, horror and hysteria. It is the best performance by one of the most exciting new talents working in the industry today.
It’s hard to nitpick or hate the film- the content and the characters are utterly despicable. Audiences will loathe the total hedonism of the picture, but at the same time indulge in the knowing commentary of it all. But like all the best works of art, it certain evokes a strong reaction on whatever side of the fence you end up on by its muted endnote.
Neel has cleverly disguised a measured, witty and cutting-edge Wolf in a vapid, despicable and tacky Sheep’s clothing. Whatever he comes up with next, you know it’s going to be good.
Verdict: King Kelly is a masterpiece. At once exciting and provocative, it’s a hell of a ride and one of the best films as yet produced that will define my generation in the years to come. It is by no means perfect, but it’s ballsier, more original and far more intelligent than almost any movie of its kind you’ll come across. An absolute must-watch, whatever stance you take on it.
King Kelly is now available to download in the US on iTunes. It is coming soon to The UK.
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