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“KILD TV” (Movie Review)

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So many low-budget slasher movies focus on teen victims who apparently have no lives that KILD TV distinguishes itself simply by having its killer target adults on the job.

That workplace is a small TV station where a late-night skeleton crew is setting up to air a Friday-night horror-host show headlined by Milton (D.C. Douglas), a.k.a. Dr. Perseco. We’re introduced and get to know the team via new employee Adel (Astrea Campbell-Cobb), with screenwriter Channing Whitaker and director William Collins swiftly sketching each of the characters, letting us get to know them well enough to set up how they’ll react when things go bad. And they go bad before too long, because there’s someone lurking around the studio who has it in for the group, and Dr. Perseco’s tacky pretend horrors give way to genuine gore.

One of the nice things about KILD TV (now available on a special prerelease Blu-ray and DVD via the movie’s official website, where you can also find out about upcoming festival screenings) is how it doesn’t follow the expected course when it comes to its lead character. Milton rules the roost at the eponymous TV station, and the typical formula would dictate that he’s an egotistical jerk when off the set, but he actually proves to be a decent guy when the cameras aren’t rolling, doing his best to help his co-workers figure a way out of the situation when the body count begins. Since the station’s transmission tower blocks any cell-phone signal and all the doors have been locked, what to do?

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Well, they have a wealth of communication equipment at their fingertips, but the filmmakers throw a couple of plausible stumbling blocks in front of that course of action. Unfortunately for the team, the broadcast has been preprogrammed and the only guy who knows how to alter it is the first one to go, so the survivors are restricted to those moments when the feed has been set to go live from the studio. And then, even when Milton gets on camera to alert anyone watching that they’re in trouble, the people watching think it’s just part of the show. This is the KILD TV filmmakers’ fun twist on the relationship between genre viewers and what they watch, as they intercut a white-trash couple and a skeptical cop viewing the proceedings.

The setting and the story/character quirks it allows for help distinguish KILD TV, which in other ways hits the expected stalker-saga beats. For the most part, it’s not hard to figure out who’s going to die next, though the gore FX are intense enough that fans of the form will likely be satisfied. Then there’s the whodunit aspect, which of course is tied to a past trauma; the movie sprinkles in little hints here and there (keep your eye on veteran anchorman Conrad, played by Bill Ross, who’s hanging around after hours to work on some personal business), along with a couple of red herrings, before paying it off with a revelation that’s just out-there enough to keep it from being too predictable.

The production and cinematography are undistinguished but get the job done, and the acting is generally better than one sees in many grassroots flicks of this type, with top honors going to Douglas, who’s got real screen presence. He’s believable as both the actor-within-the-film and the story’s de facto hero, and just as crucially, his role is distinct from the protagonists we often see in low-budget killathons. You actually want to see him make it through the night, and help his cohorts survive—and that, as well, gives KILD TV a severed leg up on many of its contemporaries.

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Ken Michaels
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