KatieBird: Certifiable Crazy Person (2004)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Sadistic Horror, Sex Horror  |   Run Time - 99 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Jeremy Wheeler

With all the hoopla about horror going back to its roots, it's refreshing to see a film that actually gives you the real kind of squeamish chills that only true exploitation delivers when it's running on full guns. Outside of Asian horror, filmmakers rarely set out to achieve the shocking levels of disgust and dread that once paralyzed cult audiences, so when Justin Paul Ritter decided to tackle this extreme technique, it was a bold move for a young artist in a changed world of cinema. What's interesting is just how a gutsy story like this can be told in the 21st century as compared to the film days of old. While embracing the unflinching nature of the material, Ritter turns it on its head by dissecting storytelling techniques through effective and fluid multi-frame editing. While it may be too much for some, the film's extreme panel design style does create layers of subtleties that take it past sheer gimmick territory. KatieBird: Certifiable Crazy Person is also admirable for the sensational performances gleaned from both of the actresses playing the titular main character herself. Taylor Dooley is effortless as she conveys the naïve awe that drives the carefully orchestrated early moments of KatieBird's life, while Helene Udy is downright unnerving as the present-day psychopath whose frightening sexual and violent perversion drives the film to its terrifically numbing finale. While a lot of indie horror wildly misses the mark, this one flourished under the same type of creative freedom felt by many of its genre's grandfathers and ups the ante in its own way. With deeper questions that delve into the nature of father and daughter relationships, KatieBird also realizes a dream of meaning beyond shocks, and in doing so, makes the trip all the more haunting.