Deadly Karma Review

 

I like a good revenge movie. I own and have seen numerous times both I Spit On Your Grave as well as The Last House On The Left. While I can admit to enjoying the remakes of both of those films, I will always be partial to the originals – the main reason being that those original movies were raw and gritty, lacking any watering down in production due to some corporate influence.

This is the element that attracted me to Deadly Karma. I figured that being an indie revenge movie would free it of the constraints of a big production company trying to market this movie to a much broader audience than just those interested in the specific genre. To a certain extent Deadly Karma does just that.

The movie opens with a girl strapped to a chair who is eventually suffocated. I’m not against a horror movie jumping right into things. It can draw a viewer in immediately, whether for the comedic value of being outdated or for the sheer ferocity of what is depicted. Thus, a girl getting her face wrapped in plastic seemed an interesting way to open a bully/revenge flick.

After this we jump into the standard character build-up: a scene set in a high school where the students are all clearly post-25 (and closer to 30). I sometimes wonder why indie film companies seem to be unable to find actors who at least look like they’re in high school. When I was in high school, I knew one or two other people who had ONE tattoo (and that was if they had a cool older brother and most likely took a healthy ration of shit from their parents for it) but one of the “kids” in Deadly Karma must have had three or four cooler older brothers… and those older brothers are most likely in their late 30’s or early 40’s at the time of filming (please keep in mind the fact that his tattoos were REALLY crappy). Regardless, severely tested was my ability to suspend disbelief that these were teenaged children.

One of these “twenteens” (I made that up – you’re welcome), Sammy, is the main focal point of the rest of his peers’ resentment and torture. I’m pretty sure every high school had that one kid who got it worse than the others. Sometimes he would bring it on himself, other times it was just natural teenaged malicious intent. Sammy falls into the latter category. Plain and simple, the people Sammy goes to school with are assholes. For instance, Sammy is accosted outside of the school (in a rather Toxic Avenger-esque moment) by a female classmate who shows him her (rather unimpressive) rack – but it’s all a ruse to trick Sammy into stealing his underwear to hoist up the flagpole.

Sammy’s plight is furthered by his sister who feels that because of him she isn’t part of any popular circles. He continues to be bullied at school and is even seen crying in the hallway after gym class. To put it lightly, Sammy’s life sucks (for a good point of reference think of Steve Buscemi a la Billy Madison). This is probably why a montage of scenes of the rest of his schoolmates arriving at school the following day is interspersed with an additional montage of Sammy checking his sidearm, finally being able to anticipate a good day at school.

What follows is a rather depressing string and piano dirge while Sammy walks into school and shoots one of his tormentors before being tackled by a teacher. One would think that after all of the crap Sammy’s been put through he would have taken out more than one person but then that would mean that the rest of the movie wouldn’t need to exist.

Fast forward 5 years. One by one, each of Sammy’s former classmates are being killed. Is it Sammy? We can’t be sure as the killer’s face is obscured by a green mask.

I did like the idea behind this movie – don’t get me wrong. A teenager’s mind is malleable. It can be shaped by what it sees. When what it sees is constant ruthless torture, that becomes all it knows. I’m pretty sure that’s what this movie was trying to do with the character of Sammy. Deadly Karma just seems to fall a bit flat in that quest a decent amount of the time. Subtle things just bring the movie to a more mediocre level than it really needs to be. I would almost go so far as to say that had the producers actually brought in 19 or 20 year old art students the acting would have been a bit more than sub-par. Additionally, I’m not a cinematographer by any means but I do fully understand the importance of when to use and when not to use a tripod – which I think may have been completely left out of the Deadly Karma budget entirely.

In any case, it works slightly as a good entry-level indie movie. It has a good idea behind it. Even the story, if fleshed out a bit better, could be extremely standout. The acting could definitely use more than its fair share of airbrushing – I’m not going to lie. I guess what I liked the most is the originality of it. I can’t think of very many movies that touch on the subject of high school bully revenge (at least movies that weren’t made-for-television). Maybe 25 or 30 years down the line they’ll remake Deadly Karma and I’ll refer back to this original and praise it more. Then again, maybe not.

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