Impressions: Kristy

Kristy is a 2015 horror film that had a relatively limited release, and I’ve noticed it seems to be pretty overshadowed in the horror community. Aside from not many knowing about it, it also appears to be compared to You’re Next which I think you could make the case is a better movie, although I don’t love the comparison of the two overall — getting a little bit ahead of myself.

At the start of the film, we are introduced to an online group that tasks people to hunt down “Kristy” and a description of who that is. The point is to find the target, torment her, kill her, and film the entire thing unfolding to upload it. From there we follow Justine who is seemingly the only student left behind on campus over Thanksgiving break. She leaves the campus one night in her wealthy friend’s car and interacts with Violet who then picks her as their next target. They follow her on campus, and the horror unfolds.

I think one of my biggest issues with the film is that the reasoning for the killers is not fleshed out. The idea of “Kristy” comes from the Latin “Follow of God. However, there is little to nothing to actually tie to that. “Follower of God” is mentioned and they one time tell Justine to “run to God,” but otherwise the victims of the various killers seem to be picked because they are pretty and “blessed.” There is no reference to faith at any other point in the movie, and it feels like an odd choice for the cybercult to seemingly call to religious motivations but then not really use them at all. In the grand scheme of things it’s not that big of a deal, hell just picking pretty girls they envy to kill is perfectly reasonable, but the emphasis on “Kristy” as the motivation with the again lacking further religious motivation was a bit irksome to me.

Also irksome is Justine herself. She is just a bit too much, “the final girl.” She is kind to everybody, including the killers, which is how she becomes their target, she is poor but works hard, she is the smartest girl in class, she is athletic, etc. She almost has to be painted in this light for the movie to work and her to rise as the hero, but it still feels a bit… off. I guess it’s the combination of stereotypical emotionally repressed but then perfect to rise up and break the cycle that turns me off a bit about Justine.

However, these complaints do little to actually stop my enjoyment of this film, and I do genuinely enjoy it. Like movies of the same vein, such as the aforementioned You’re Next, the movie unfolds in two stages. Initially, the group is stalking and hunting Justine, with a body count to follow, then something pushes Justine over the edge, and she turns the tables and starts to lay traps and hunt down her killers.

I like this play on traditional horror for many reasons. One being that it really pushes the “final girl” envelop in a way that is not only different but that I personally enjoy. Justine is not just smart and happens to get herself out of her situation like many “final girls,” but she actively takes part not only in her rescue but in her own desire for revenge. It is also drawn out more than just a climax with the final girl turning it around on the killer; it is actually a major and developing plot point.

Another reason I like it is it turns the suspense and horror on its head. The movie is still suspenseful because while Justine is hunting them they haven’t given up their hunt on her. Each trap she sets begs the question of how it’s going to turn out, will it be in her favor or the favor of the bad guys?

The problem I have with Kristy vs. say You’re Next is in the balance, or lack thereof. Erin in You’re Next comes to her own and turns the tables fairly early on in the movie. In Justine’s case, it’s very nearly the end, and she also has fewer people hunting her. This doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with the scenes of Justine escaping and hunting, there’s not. What it does mean is that there is not nearly enough of them. It also means we get a little too much of what we’ve seen before. Girl being chased, thinking she’s found help, help failing (dying), lather, rinse, repeat. I could have done with Justine being pushed over about 20 minutes earlier in the film, throw in a few extra hunters, and then give us more of Justine being in the driver seat. I think it would have made the movie feel more balanced, and it would have helped the experience overall.

As it stands, I rather like Kristy and think it’s a bit underrated. Violet could have been a more developed character, but both her and Justine are fine, if not great. I mentioned my issues with the cybercult’s motivation, but even with those, it’s an interesting and frightening concept that plays out well. The movie has a decent amount of suspense and is not drowning in too much gore for the sake of it.

In the end, I find it to be an entertaining horror movie if a little bit disappointing. I think given the concept, and the attempts to turn the final girl trope around it could have been pushed a little further and been a great movie. However, it is a good movie and one I have been happy to watch more than once. I think it deserves more love in the genre fan community and would recommend it to most people. In spite of my problems with it, what is there is well done, a good watch, and even manages to scare me which is something I always want. If you haven’t already seen it give Kristy a watch if you’ve seen it before it might be worth a revisit.

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