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King Kelly

SXSW 2012 Review

SeeThinkFilms; 84 minutes

Director: Andrew Neel

Written by on March 19, 2012 

I would have never guessed Louisa Krause had it in her, front and center as a webcam girl in King Kelly, with an opening as she masturbates for her adoring fans. Krause first came on my radar in the excellent indie Tie to Tie and in Kelly, she plays a sexy 21-year-old blonde who lives her life though social networking, told through footage shot via iPhone in a portrait of a self obsessed generation.

Kelly’s friend Jordan (Libby Woodbridge) comes over to help her with her website, as Kelly, who spends her time in front of the camera, has little knowledge when not prompted. It’s Memorial Day and she’s in a matching red, white and blue flag panties and bra, which are frequently seen. Kelly’s car is stolen by her ex-boyfriend, which contains drugs as we find out as they head to a party that’s about 4% of the one in Project X.

An obscene amount of drugs are taken (again, I don’t understand why people aren’t smarter, especially while driving – drinking, snorting coke, texting and taking video?) and they get into a car wreck. They are saved by Poo Bare (Rodrick Hill), a state trooper whom I would say is on a power trip, but let’s just say he’s a regular cop. A frequent visitor to Kelly’s webcam, he agrees to rough up her ex in exchange for a few bumps of coke and sex with Kelly.

This is where I’ll stop explaining the film and explain the issues I have with found footage film and this one in particular; images from a security camera are boring (see Paranormal Activity 2 and 3), but what is problematic here is we cannot believe how stupid these people are. Is media literacy really this big of an issue in our schools? This is of course fictional, but where the found footage film is falling apart is the conceit that everyone is holding a camera at the exactly perfect moment, or in this case, that their iPhones didn’t run out of batteries as they never stop to charge them.

This genre has jumped the shark and King Kelly is somewhat late to the party. It is not well-acted and an often maddening film due to its lack of believability  in a sub-genre designed to convince one otherwise. A less-than-successful entry into the genre I had reviewed two years ago, Shooting April, turned Jackass into rape video, while King Kelly goes to such extremes even as those extremes become mainstream (certainly one could argue Project X was like a drunken Fredrick Wiseman doing Girls Gone Wild). King Kelly is perhaps no longer shocking as it should be. This is a problem for its filmmaker Andrew Neel, who is not without an interesting agenda.

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