Kolobos (Daniel Liatowitsch & David Todd Ocvirk, 1999)
Being a Gen X'er, the most memorable highlights from 1999 were the following: a total solar eclipse; the first airing of The Sopranos series: the beginning of Eminem's world domination; being more gutted with Star Wars: The Phantom Menace than breaking up with my girlfriend; and the world on tenterhooks over the Millennium Bug. The meta-horror Kolobos was also released that same year, and became a Blockbuster Video staple apparently, gaining a minor cult following ever since. Late pass! I only discovered it this month.
Beginning with a bloody woman stumbling in front of a car in the pooring rain, muttering the word "Kolobos". She awakens in a hospital bed with her face completely bandaged. The majority of the film from this point onwards is told via a series of lengthy flashbacks.
The premise of Kolobos is five young strangers are paid to live in winter retreat (looking like a Poundshop Overlook Hotel)
together for a social experiment film. While habiting there, they'll be
filmed via cameras installed throughout the premises, à la Big Brother. Taking its cue from the MTV reality series The Real World, we're presented with entertaining demo reel introductions from our collective. These individuals include: Tina, the extrovert fast food employee who urinates in impatient customers' drinks; Tom, a stand-up comic; Erica, a horror actress from The Slaughterhouse Factor series of films; Gary, the sensitive, pseudo intellectual; and finally, Kira, the artistic introvert, possessing all the final girl descriptive qualities you would come to expect.
Since Kolobos is a
horror film, you don't need to make an educated guess about what's going to occur..
Kira has absolutely no business leaving the safety of her care facility,
or as Tina the Drink Spiker calls it "the whacky shack", (which happens to
be run by the legendary scream queen and fitness goddess Linnea Quigley in an all too brief cameo) as she's prone to slashing herself and having psychotic visions of faceless people and a disfigured maniac. Have you guessed who the villain is yet?
Kolobos suffers from many significant flaws which would turn away many serious film heads. With the exception of Amy Weber, who plays Kira, the performances are quite poor. Kolobos's co-directors were fresh graduates out of film school and their inexperience is very apparent. The writing is very muddled and convoluted at times. Much of what occurs on screen exists for superficial reasons rather than offer any real coherent sense. From a bonus feature on the film's blu-ray, the film makers admitted to naming their film after the Ancient Greek word for mutilate Kolobos, because it sounded cool.The antagonist has way too much plot armour which logistically makes little sense. Even with a huge suspension of disbelief, the writing has a significantly detrimental affect for the finale. Also, LOL @ the R&B snippet following on from the Lidl brand Suspiria theme during the end credits.
What makes Kolobos blogworthy however, is how unique it ostensibly is for its era: one, it preceeds other early reality TV based horror films I recall by a few years, e.g My Little Eye (2002) and Halloween: Resurrection (2002); two, the house is booby trapped with laser trip wire, metal shutters, acid plumbing, and robotic machines throwing circular razor saws, predating the Saw (2004 - ∞) franchise; and three, it's heavily inspired by both classic giallo and Italian horror way before the renaissance for them became noticeable a decade later.
You don't need to wait very long for the obvious influences either as Kolobos's main theme by William Kidd sounds like a complete rip-off of Goblin's theme from Suspiria
(1977). Other than the Argento lighting, my favourite of the homages is the eye gouge scene, which takes
obvious inspiration from Lucio Fulci's notoriously graphic eye gouge scene from Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979).
None of the main cast and crew seemed to have had significant career
after Kolobos, with the exception of Amy Weber. She briefly went on to
become a WWE diva back in the day, and also tried her hand as an budding popstar, covering Girls Aloud's Something Kinda Ooh! and dueting with Sean Kingston. I was going to add, on another alternate Earth, where Kolobos
was a major hit, Weber might have never bothered with the wrestling and
the singing and been on the same career path as Neve Campbell, but even
she kind of faded out, too.
Kolobos is way better than some of the absolute trashfests I adore, but it's also way too burdened by major flaws to enter any kind of serious objective discussion of hailing it a good film; even by many horror film enthusiasts. Having watched this film a couple of times this month, I do understand the reason for its mini cult-following. It's got a lot of heart and ingenuity for what's essentially a low budget slasher and I admire that about it. Kolobos comes across as a freak of nature, as it's an obscure and forgotten, gory forerunner to the types of horror films that would become so prominent in the noughties. Film critics dubbing it as Saw meets Big Brother are kind of spot on about it, however. It's also one of the few films I've watched lately that's lingered with me after its end credits and that's a surprising feat in itself considering the amount of films I watch on the regular.