Kalamity -- Film Review

Pallid, unconvincing thriller carries the battle between the sexes to literal extremes.

James M. Hausler's film attempts to explore the changing power dynamics of relationships, but whatever sociological interest it engenders is smothered by its hamfisted execution.

If more for cautionary than cinematic reasons, women thinking of dumping their boyfriends would be well advised to check out Kalamity. If one is to believe this aptly entitled psychological thriller written and directed by James M. Hausler, the consequences are not likely to be good for their health.

Old buddies Billy (the talented Nick Stahl, wasted here) and Stan (Jonathan Jackson) suffer from a serious malaise over their recent splits, only in different ways. For the sensitive Billy, who has returned home to Virginia to live with his sympathetic parents (the ever-reliable Robert Forster, Patricia Kalember) after the end of a five-year relationship, it takes the form of imaginary agonized conversations with his ex (Beau Garrett). For the clearly unraveling Stan, it results in increasingly vicious misogynistic rants about women and psycho behavior like pointing a loaded gun at an oblivious female chatting away on her cell phone while stopped at a red light.

Meanwhile, Stan's ex, Ashley (Alona Tal), has gone mysteriously missing, and he reacts with volatile anger any time her name is mentioned. The film's opening moments provide a handy explanation, one that Billy, if not the audience, takes far too long to decipher.

Although the film presumably attempts to explore the changing power dynamics of relationships in which men increasingly have become to feel like victims, whatever sociological interest it engenders is smothered by its hamfisted execution, including stubbornly lugubrious pacing, overly self-conscious performances and awkward dialogue and voice-over narration that all too bluntly lays out its themes.

Opened: Friday, Oct. 22 (Original 4 Releasing)
Production: Beat Pirate Films
Cast: Nick Stahl, Jonathan Jackson, Christopher M. Clark, Beau Garrett, Robert Forster, Alona Tal, Patricia Kalember, Sammi Hanratty
Director-screenwriter: James M. Hausler
Producer: Juliana Penaranda-Loftus
Director of photography: Jim Hunter
Editor: Chris Lorusso
Music: Christopher Magnum
Costume designer: Susan O'Donnell
Production designer: Elizabeth Jones
Rated R, 100 minutes