by Larry Dwyer

As the opening credits roll to Waking Karma, a young girl in an insect mask ends the life of a kneeling adult in what can only be a ritual sacrifice. Shots of newspaper clippings about the cult leader, Paul, remaining at large are intercut with the scene along with a creepy song.

As someone who finds religious/cult films super frightening (thus, awesome), color me intrigued.

We’re now fast-forwarded seventeen years later where high school senior Karma is in bed, texting a friend and obsessing over how best to tell her mom that she has been accepted into Harvard – not normally rough news for a kid to tell their mom but I guess when the mom is the ex-cult member who stabbed the guy in the sacrifice years ago…yeah.

We learn that it’s Karmas’s birthday and her mom (Sunny) has planned a whole bunch of fun stuff to do. After “the party” ends, we find out that an anonymous letter has arrived, supposedly from Paul, saying that it’s time for him to come retrieve his daughter Karma.

Instead of going to the authorities with this note (like a slightly sane person), Sunny tells Karma to pack up and they escape to the “off-the-grid” home of another couple of ex-cult members. They go here because, according to them, it’s totally secure and no one can get on the land without being allowed on the land. Sure.

As we all know from horror films, when someone says they’re safe, they’re always quite the opposite and we finally get to meet Paul (Michael Madsen) up close and personal.

Walking Karma tries it’s best to thrill you (it doesn’t), to surprise you (also doesn’t) and then to terrify you (another no). While the premise shows promise, what made it to the script and screen falls short of the mark in nearly every category.


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