Hell’s Kitty, a film that has been assembled from a web series of the same name conceived by writer/director Nicholas Tana, makes for an amusing in-joke for horror hounds. The cameos alone from iconic character actors are enough to make those fans beam. For instance, The Hills Have Eyes’ Michael Berryman appears as a testy detective, while Heir’s Bill Oberst Jr. and The Shape of Water’s Doug Jones star as a devout duo who attempt to exorcize a cranky cat. An early (and possibly unintentional) laugh came early when Doug Jones, an accomplished performer known for his transformative fantasy roles, was billed after Angel the cat. However, that’s a reveal of how campy Hell’s Kitty can be.
There’s only one rule while watching Tana’s horror-comedy: you cannot, under any circumstance, take it seriously. That may be a given considering the outlandish set-up about a violent evil cat, but since the filmmaker refuses to unpack a convoluted origin story behind the furious feline, the viewer has no choice but to take the film at face value. Nicholas Tana stars as Nick, a man who can never have an intimate relationship because of his protective pet. Playing off the conceited nuances of cats and the blinded affection of their owners, this goofy movie channels clever satire while also soaking the screen with blood and gore.
Hell’s Kitty doesn’t always work though. The innuendo-filled film can’t disguise its repetition (Nick meets new people who then meet his cat, over-the-top clawing and terrorizing ensues, repeat steps one and two), and the framing is often too tight to convey any effective sight gags. But, as someone who has experienced some truly dreadful at-home horror-comedies (Chopping Block, The Orange Man, Zombie Cats from Mars), Nicholas Tana provides one of the better examples in the off-beat sub-genre.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie