KatieBird: Certifiable Crazy Person (Justin Paul Ritter, 2005)
Corman film factory graduate Justin Paul Ritter presents his first movie, and for someone who was involved with some of Corman's worst recent offerings (including the Black Scorpion TV show), his managing to stay away from the horrible scripts, unintentional humor, and awful acting that characterized so much of his second-unit work is pretty amazing. In fact, that this movie is anything other than horrendous is pretty much reason to rejoice. It's not a great film by any means, but given his background, it does presage great things for Mr. Ritter in the future (and, four years after KatieBird, Ritter is set to release two new films in 2009; I'm looking forward to them).
The title character in this film (Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman's Helene Udy) lives up to her subtitle; in the present-day scenes we see, KatieBird has brought her psychiatrist and would-be suitor (Point Blank's Todd Gordon) back to her place, where she slowly tortures him while telling him the story of her life (the character is played in flashback by Nicole Jarvis, in her first film role, as a child, and Rufus' Taylor Dooley as a teen), giving us a look at how her father, played by Into the Arms of Strangers' Lee Perkins (who, actually, is a professional race car driver who acts on the side), shaped her into the psychotic she is today.
Okay, so everyone and his mom had complained about the split-screen effect that's vastly overused in this movie. But you know what? Compared to Timecode, probably the most famous movie to use the technique, this is a triumph. Yeah, I grant you, it still kind of sucks, but it's done so much better here than I've ever seen it before. Part of this is because the use of the split-screen technique has nothing, really to do with what's actually going on onscreen. Most of the time it's simply a stylistic choice, rather than being used to show multiple storylines at once. It wasn't an absolute necessity to try and focus on multiple storylines, so it didn't really matter which screen I watched, I was still getting what I needed to know about the plot.
The script is solid, and there's some darned fine acting here (Udy, is excellent, and some mention should be made of Jun Hee Lee as a teen KatieBird's crush who comes to a very bad end), and it's interesting to see a film that's not a horror movie get the gore treatment. It seems most people who have watched this are unable to get by the split-screen thing; if you can, there's a lot to like with this one. ***