When it comes to horror movies, it seems that nobody is ever truly safe, and even the most seemingly innocuous of things can be lethal. Just take a look at that sub-genre of inanimate objects inexplicably coming to life and terrorising everyone: from a car in Christine, to a car tyre in Rubber, and so many creepy dolls and toys.
Add to that list one further item: kites. In fairness, the signs were already pretty much there, having been used as a tool of warfare following their creation by the Chinese. American inventor and statesman Benjamin Franklin also used a kite to take on Mother Nature, when flying one near thunder clouds in order to demonstrate the electrical basis of lightning. Yes, it turns out that kites have all along been far more insidious and nefarious than the likes of Mary Poppins would have you believe through the power of song.
Thank goodness, then, that the terrible truth about those flimsy, airborne bastards has been unveiled once and for all by Killer Kites, the comedy horror feature film by Paul Dale (the writer and director of 2022’s Sewer Gators) and Austin Frosch. Yes, thanks to this motion picture, we finally learn the hideous realities which those sky dwelling psychopaths want to keep hidden away from the public at large: kites love bread, are like sharks, and all love Communism. These kites have simply been stringing us along, and this exposé blows the whole thing sky high.
The story of Killer Kites sees Abby (Manon Pages) getting a rather unusual inheritance from her late grandmother, in the form of a kite. Abby gives the kite to her brother, who ends up being killed in mysterious circumstances, and the kite goes missing. Seeking justice for her brother, Abby is hellbent on discovering the truth, and she gets drawn into supernatural territory, as she pulls together a team to take down the kite – and any of its homicidal brethren – before there are further deaths.
An indie flick, Killer Kites demonstrates there is no expense spared when it comes to sparing expense. Shot in a guerrilla style, the very cheapness of the piece oozes out from every frame and pore. The whole endeavour may sound daft, but it also happens to look daft and be daft. Just imagine Birdemic: Shock and Terror, only with kites instead of avians, as well as being much, much cheaper. The whole thing veers between a self-knowing, self-aware parody, and being so sincere in its efforts that it seems almost wilfully blind to its many, many flaws, along with its utter bizarreness.
Although Killer Kites is mercifully short, on first watching it still feels like 67 minutes of your life you will never get back. However, after sitting through it the first time, somehow it actually improves on subsequent viewings, once that initial shock to the system has worn off. The script is chock full of non sequiturs and paper-thin characterisations, yet it also has the ability to cause you to laugh out loud, containing as it does some truly filthy and inspired jokes. As dumb flicks go, Killer Kites is actually surprisingly clever at times.
You also have to admire the sheer chutzpah of the makers in their naked, unashamed cross-promotion for Sewer Gators, which virtually sits on your face in its lack of subtlety. Truly, the sheer cast iron cojones of Dale & Frosch in their cocking a snook at convention is worthy of recognition, if not even a round of applause. You still end up having to question if the film is genuinely that bad, or if Killer Kites is actually a very clever subversion of form, and ends up playing against your expectations, albeit not always necessarily in the right ways, being a source of both bemusement and amusement alike.
As our heroine and thereby sitting firmly at the very core of the film, Manon Pages truly is the perfect pick to play Abby. Her sustained disbelief at these events, mixed in with a kind of weary acceptance that everything here is simply strange and unaccountable, is pitched and played beautifully. Abby is the very antithesis of the kind of typical female lead that you might expect in horror films, especially in that the horror on screen is virtually non-existent at times (other, that is, than in the dialogue and some of the other performances). Pages genuinely carries the whole thing throughout.
Think of Killer Kites as being the antidote to overwrought big budget horror flicks, and disengage your brain prior to watching for best results. Unlike on those titular kites, this yarn is relatively short, although you might end up feeling highly strung by the climax. If you see only one film about aerial psychotic children’s toys this year, that may still be one too many. For sheer, unalloyed entertainment value of the most absurd kind, however, this release may leave you feeling as high as a kite.
Killer Kites is out now on digital release in the USA.