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KOLOBOS (1999)

Directed by Daniel Liatowitsch, David Todd Ocvirk
Written by Daniel Liatowitsch, David Todd Ocvirk, Nne Ebong
Starring Amy Weber, Donny Terranova, Nichole Pelerine, John Fairlie, Promise LaMarco, Kim Simms Thomas, Todd Beadle, Mari Weiss, Jonathan Rone, Linnea Quigley, Ivan Battee & Ilia Volok as Faceless!

Waaaay back in the dark age of 1999, we were all fascinated with reality television (it hadn’t reached its pinnacle yet) with MTV’s THE REAL WORLD leading the charge. It was a no brainer to use that setting as the backdrop for a horror film. I’m sure there have been plenty of films to do this (DEAD SET comes to mind), but one of the first and most prolific was KOLOBOS, which not only used the popular premise, but also used hand held POV shots before found footage became passé. Because of these themes and motifs used, KOLOBOS serves to be one of those lost gems, you most likely missed because everyone else in horror at the time was busy being all meta.

A woman is found in the street beaten and bloody. She is rushed to a hospital where she is asked what happened to her. This leads to a retelling of a gathering of five very different personalities, brought together to film a reality television show. The participants are locked in a condo and filmed for every second of the day, which feeds into the kids’ endless need for attention and appetite for fame. But soon, fun turns to terror, as the cast members begin falling like little Indians. As suspicions arise, the group begins to tear itself apart and do the job of the killer for him. And it all leads to a word the amnesiac keeps repeating…KOLOBOS!

Yes, it was the age of SCREAM and NEW NIGHTMARE and such. Instead of real scares, people were too busy with snark and irony to be scared. That what makes KOLOBOS so refreshing. Though it borrows from aspects of pop culture, it does so in a straight forward way, utilizing ultra-gore, genuine scary moments, and a genuine respect for what came before. The filmmakers admit to being in love with Giallo in the behind the scenes features, though it is quite obvious given the SUSPIRIA-esque music in the opener, the hand-held witness to a crime bookends, and the attention to elaborate death scenes. This film is chock full of them and any fan of Argento or Bava will have a lot to like here. The gore is especially nice here. All done before the age of CG, these scenes are sticky and gooey. Another homage to older films.

As great as this film is, it is low budget compared to the higher budgeted films of its age reliant on big stars and expansive set pieces. It is also quite apparent this is a film from film students as there is an adorable adherence to making this film count—as if they’re going for broke including classical Greek themes and academic undertones. The youth behind the camera definitely adds to the trendiness of the film itself. The acting is hammy and over the top, but everything is taken seriously. KOLOBOS must have felt like a breath of fresh air when it first came out. I know I would have thought so, as I never did like the SCREAM self-referential era that much. As is, it serves as a great homage to the Italian giallo and eighties slasher films.