Columbine Commentary Meets Cliche Thriller Formula in Kalamity


Directed by James M. Hausler
Screen Media Films
Opens October 22, Village East

Three male buddies barely out of their teens—one sad (Nick Stahl), one mad (Jonathan Jackson), and one weird (Christopher M. Clark)—reconvene in their Northern Virginia hometown to chew over their troubles with women. It would ruin things if I told you which one of their girls was the madonna and which the whore, but anyway, one of them disappears, only to turn up bludgeoned to death. After almost two hours of blue-lit nights, flashbacks, long silences, and a high-falutin’ score to go with the blood-stained clothing, we find out how and why. The mystery wasn’t too opaque from the beginning, and if, as I suspect, that’s intentional in the service of deep ancillary thoughts about the how and why of the Columbine shooters, which the movie directly references, why couch the story as a thriller? Writer-director James M. Hausler has picked up some competent, if shopworn genre moves, and there are a bonus few minutes of Robert Forster as Stahl’s worried dad. But, though Hausler’s sincerity is palpable, his efforts at world-weary ennui seem premature, and his wisdom about what motivates random violence in the youth of today proves too callow for a satisfying climax.

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