“Kick Me”

This movie was screened at Panic Fest.

I really appreciate what co-writer and director Gary Huggins was trying to do with his outrageous horror-comedy “Kick Me.” Truly, I do. This story about a school counselor’s nightmare of a night has a wicked tone, creative vision, and a devilish sense of humor, but the quirkiness grows tiresome and the shocking, preposterous situations feel increasingly contrived and forced.

Santiago (Santiago Vasquez) makes a promise to visit a student’s martial arts dojo, but he must make it back in time to see his daughter’s recital. He and his wife want to reward their little girl with a surprise pet, and they’ve settled on a fluffy white rabbit. Of course, Santiago’s night goes from bad to worse, and he finds himself the target of murderous thugs. Running from danger, he encounters all sorts of sketchy strangers and gets tied up with some very shady characters. All of this culminates in a bloodbath of epic proportions.

This movie is a really, really weird entry into the canon of other “night on the town” films like “Fried Barry” and “After Hours.” The story isn’t cohesive, and the film plays like a series of oddball encounters (some work, but most do not). The humor is hit or miss too, and the non-actors in the cast stick out like a sore thumb.

The cinematography (by Michael Wilson) looks great and sets an appropriately seedy tone that’s the perfect complement to the story. There are some unforgettable visuals, like a pack of 3-legged murderous dogs chasing a man clad only in a jockstrap through an empty shopping mall. (If you’re well-versed in independent cinema, you’ll recognize the type of film this is from that scene description alone).

This film felt like the longest 86 minutes of my life, mostly because the narrative stagnates until closer to the end, when the movie’s most inspired bit finally happens. It’s all about a kid’s very depressing, dire school presentation about natural disasters. The scene is so well done, it had me giggling the entire time.

I respect and appreciate Huggins’ dedication to his ballsy brand of storytelling, but “Kick Me” is both too weird yet not weird enough. I can’t imagine this movie will have any sort of legs outside of very specific genre film festivals.

By: Louisa Moore

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