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Kalamity

Film noir and crime fiction are studded with examples of men whose psychosis is cloaked in misogyny, most notably the plainspoken deputy sheriff in Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me, a novel that goes deep into sadomasochism, abuse, and murder. Even the notion of the femme fatale arises from male suspicion—or outright hostility—about the opposite sex. In the awkward neo-noir Kalamity, writer-director James M. Hausler attempts to tap into that same reservoir by following two men haunted to different degrees by recent breakups. Nick Stahl stars as a young man who returns to his Northern Virginian hometown, still reeling from a relationship that fell apart on him. He discovers his best friend (Jonathan Jackson) in considerably worse shape after his own split, and the two have trouble communicating. When they go out drinking, Stahl is shocked to hear the level of vitriol Jackson spews at women of any kind, and even a mention of Jackson’s ex-girlfriend sets him off on a belligerent rampage. 

Stahl and Jackson’s roommate (Christopher M. Clark) begin to worry that their friend’s anger might manifest in dangerous ways, and their concerns are affirmed by news that Jackson’s girlfriend has turned up missing. Kalamity isn’t terribly concerned about the did-he-or-didn’t-he question; whatever mysteries it holds are more about human behavior than conventional suspense. But Hausler treats the material with a heavy hand. Jackson acts so detached and sociopathic from the start that the bond between these two men—in friendship and breakup commiseration—is never felt. What’s left is a strange, stilted, misbegotten drama, undone by variable performances, awkwardly inserted flashback and fantasy sequences, and a gloppy overlay of voiceover narration. It’s a film without surprises, revealing nothing in the fifth reel that wasn’t apparent in the first.

Filed Under: Film

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