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Cult Following

Kristy Review

Self-defense movies have become popular enough that they are flirting with their own sub-genre of horror. Straw Dogs, You're Next, and even The Hills Have Eyes all have this theme in which our protagonists are pushed to the brink and they instinctively become maniacal killing machines, like their attackers, in order to survive. It's a twisted form of justification for the brutal destruction of our antagonists. It verges on revenge film motivations, as both catalysts for violence are reactionary, but revenge movies are gradual builds to a premeditated climactic moment of vengeance, where self-defense movies are instantaneous survival instincts engaged by the pursuers.

And while these films tend to establish a higher bar of suspense throughout the film's runtime, they are also rather unbelievable and overly thematic. We don't usually watch horror for its believability anyways, but it can be distracting when our protagonist suddenly develops Seal Team 6-like strategy and a blackbelt in karate like she was plugged into the Matrix and was uploaded the necessary knowledge to defeat the oft-dramatic assailants who seem overly preoccupied with theatrics rather than the actual murder.

Such is the case with Kristy. In this film, our protagonist is conveniently the only college student left behind on campus for a holiday break...The only one. The beginning of the film establishes our murderous cult fodder, giving us brief exchanges with the boyfriend, the security guard, the groundskeeper, and the like. Our cult group begins with fear tactics, as is customary, until eventually leading to the actual hunt.

The foreplay of murderers has to be the most unrealistic Hollywood manifestation in the horror genre, and there are quite a few. What kind of serial killer/murderous cult doesn't takeadvantage of a perfectly good opportunity? What kind of successful kill rate does it take to develop such an overly confident demeanor in which you think you can approach your prey and tease them for half an hour before "actually" trying? I've always given much respect to the horror antagonists that go-for-broke from the opening credits. I'd sooner believe a sentient zombie with a machete meets his telekinetic match than a serial killer mocks his victim until the victim develops a martial arts backbone and turns the tables.

I was getting wobbly on that soapbox, but it doesn't change the fact that the formula for Kristy has been worn out. The mysterious motivations of the cult don't have the desired effect of causing any additional fear and all the other tropes bring literally nothing new to the sub-sub genre. Yet, somehow, I was mildly entertained, if only with my attempts to predict the inevitable ways in which the protagonist would avenge her circumstances that could only be described as mildly traumatic.

Horror Qualifier: 6/10

Horror Quality: 3/10

Film Quality: 5/10

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