welcome to The Overlook Motel, a place where under-seen and little-known films are honored. I hope you enjoy your stay here and find the accommodations suitable. Now please sit down and make yourself comfortable, I have a few misbehaving guests to “correct”.
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I’m happy to feature a seasonal favorite in this episode of The Overlook Motel. Today’s selection is a tense, fast-paced horror-thriller with a gutsy lead. I’m talking, of course, about Olly Blackburn Kristy.
Kristy follows student Justine (Haley Bennett of Swallow) as she makes the fateful decision to spend the Thanksgiving holiday alone in her dorm. The long weekend begins fairly uneventfully. But a chance encounter with a sinister group plunges the young woman into a merciless battle for her survival.
Justine is a cleverly scripted and likeable protagonist. She attends a prestigious university where most of her classmates seem to have been born with a silver spoon in their mouths. But Justine does not come from such a privilege. She offsets the cost of her expensive education with work study and student financial aid. And she remains anchored among her peers. As such, she is likely to relate to anyone who does not come from massive wealth.
In addition to establishing her as a grounded protagonist, Justine’s financial difficulties also find her unable to afford a flight home for Thanksgiving. Instead, she is confined to her near-empty college campus over the long and stormy weekend. Justine’s original plan is to spend the day eating TV dinners with her roommate, Nicole (Erica Ash). But when Nicole’s parents surprise her with a family trip to Aspen, Justine finds herself very alone. While this seems like a less than ideal way to spend the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s a brilliant setup for a horror picture. And it is achieved to profound effect here.
Kristy dripping with atmosphere. Things get very scary when the action heats up. But even before that, director Olly Blackburn (Donkey Punch) uses subtle tricks to keep audiences on their toes. Despite being located on what we’re led to believe is a prestigious college campus, Justine’s University isn’t without its fair share of dank, unattractive corners. Before any of the antagonistic characters arrive on the scene, we see her navigating the abandoned laundry room in the basement with buzzing, flickering fluorescent lights. And the montage that depicts Justine wandering around campus is complete with several shots of her standing alone in long abandoned hallways, driving home the message that this protagonist is essentially a sitting duck.
Things only get worse when a trio of uninvited visitors arrive on the desolate campus. From this point, the film becomes a series of fast-paced chase sequences that barely give the viewer time to catch their breath.
Another facet that adds to the film’s effectiveness is the randomness of the violence to which Justine is subjected. She crosses paths with the attackers at a gas station and tries to make a gesture of good faith. But his kindness is met with hostility and violence. There’s something inherently scary about it because there’s almost no way to avoid the type of situation Justine finds herself in. Plan as we might, one can’t always avoid the brand of random and unforeseen chaos that rains down on this film’s protagonist.
As to why this essential Thanksgiving horror movie remains overlooked, that’s no great mystery. The film had a rather disappointing release strategy. It briefly landed on Netflix with no physical media release. Although now available to stream for free via YouTube, Vudu, Tubi, and FreeVee, the film has yet to receive the physical media treatment in the United States. However, you box look for a copy of the German DVD release of the film, which should work on any region-free player.
That’s it for this episode. Thank you for checking in at the Overlook Motel.
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Key words: Kristy