Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: K-11

Pulpy prison yarn lacks conviction.

March 13, 2013

-By Stephen Dalton


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1373358-K-11.Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Taking a walk on the wild side in her directing debut, Jules Stewart has opted to reboot the pulpy women-in-prison exploitation format that peaked with 1970s grind-core classics like The Big Doll House and Caged Heat. The twist here is that all these “female” inmate characters are actually gay, transsexual or transgender men, although several of the actors playing them are biologically women. Full of overwrought camping and vicious drag queens, K-11 feels in places like a deranged John Waters remake of The Shawshank Redemption.

Graduating to writer-director after more than two decades as a script supervisor, Stewart’s family connections may help boost the commercial prospects of this shamelessly trashy drama—she is the mother of Twilight star Kristen, who even has a brief cameo here as the voice at the end of a telephone line. Yes, K-Stew literally phones in her performance. But not even her star power can salvage K-11 from its own kitsch silliness. The film is sure to generate interest from LGBT audiences, but commercial appeal among the general film-going public seems likely to be limited.

Goran Visnjic plays Raymond Saxx, Jr., a wealthy Hollywood record producer arrested in the depths of a drug binge that left one of his rock-star clients dead, apparently murdered by Saxx in a jealous rage. For muddled reasons, he is assigned to K-11, the wing of L.A. County Jail reserved for gay and transgendered prisoners. Here he discovers a brutal, sexually charged queendom ruled over by the ruthless Mexican transsexual diva Mousey (Kate del Castillo) and a twisted, sadistic, corrupt warder, Johnson (D.B. Sweeney).

Saxx also forms a protective bond with the mentally fragile Butterfly (Portia Doubleday), who is being sexually abused by the monstrous child molester Detroit (Tommy Lister). Despite facing possible murder charges and a ruinous divorce, he begins formulating plans to turn the tables on these predators and help out his fellow inmates.

Stewart’s intentions are hard to read here. Thanks to overblown B-movie archetypes like Mousey and Johnson, the tone of K-11 is far too campy to work as a straight prison thriller—no pun intended. Nor is it a brazenly tongue-in-cheek, Rocky Horror-style parody. Visnjic gives a commendably restrained performance, lending this lurid story a much-needed edge of emotional realism. Ugly scenes of slow-motion throat-slashing and prison rape are not played for laughs.

Taking place almost entirely in the single jail location, K-11 looks and feels cheap. With a bigger budget and a dash more imagination, Stewart might have illuminated more of the dramatic subplot involving Saxx and his rock-star love rival. Instead, the story ends on an unresolved note of shallow vengeance and shady judicial horse-trading. Still, Stewart’s trashy debut does at least possess an enjoyably pulpy energy. Unfortunately, it is not quite good enough to deserve edgy cult status, and not quite bad enough to be a camp classic.
The Hollywood Reporter


Film Review: K-11

Pulpy prison yarn lacks conviction.

March 13, 2013

-By Stephen Dalton


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1373358-K-11.Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Taking a walk on the wild side in her directing debut, Jules Stewart has opted to reboot the pulpy women-in-prison exploitation format that peaked with 1970s grind-core classics like The Big Doll House and Caged Heat. The twist here is that all these “female” inmate characters are actually gay, transsexual or transgender men, although several of the actors playing them are biologically women. Full of overwrought camping and vicious drag queens, K-11 feels in places like a deranged John Waters remake of The Shawshank Redemption.

Graduating to writer-director after more than two decades as a script supervisor, Stewart’s family connections may help boost the commercial prospects of this shamelessly trashy drama—she is the mother of Twilight star Kristen, who even has a brief cameo here as the voice at the end of a telephone line. Yes, K-Stew literally phones in her performance. But not even her star power can salvage K-11 from its own kitsch silliness. The film is sure to generate interest from LGBT audiences, but commercial appeal among the general film-going public seems likely to be limited.

Goran Visnjic plays Raymond Saxx, Jr., a wealthy Hollywood record producer arrested in the depths of a drug binge that left one of his rock-star clients dead, apparently murdered by Saxx in a jealous rage. For muddled reasons, he is assigned to K-11, the wing of L.A. County Jail reserved for gay and transgendered prisoners. Here he discovers a brutal, sexually charged queendom ruled over by the ruthless Mexican transsexual diva Mousey (Kate del Castillo) and a twisted, sadistic, corrupt warder, Johnson (D.B. Sweeney).

Saxx also forms a protective bond with the mentally fragile Butterfly (Portia Doubleday), who is being sexually abused by the monstrous child molester Detroit (Tommy Lister). Despite facing possible murder charges and a ruinous divorce, he begins formulating plans to turn the tables on these predators and help out his fellow inmates.

Stewart’s intentions are hard to read here. Thanks to overblown B-movie archetypes like Mousey and Johnson, the tone of K-11 is far too campy to work as a straight prison thriller—no pun intended. Nor is it a brazenly tongue-in-cheek, Rocky Horror-style parody. Visnjic gives a commendably restrained performance, lending this lurid story a much-needed edge of emotional realism. Ugly scenes of slow-motion throat-slashing and prison rape are not played for laughs.

Taking place almost entirely in the single jail location, K-11 looks and feels cheap. With a bigger budget and a dash more imagination, Stewart might have illuminated more of the dramatic subplot involving Saxx and his rock-star love rival. Instead, the story ends on an unresolved note of shallow vengeance and shady judicial horse-trading. Still, Stewart’s trashy debut does at least possess an enjoyably pulpy energy. Unfortunately, it is not quite good enough to deserve edgy cult status, and not quite bad enough to be a camp classic.
The Hollywood Reporter
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Laggies
Film Review: Laggies

Disappointing comedic entry about a late-20s slacker who won’t grow up is writer/filmmaker Lynn Shelton’s first outing directing someone else’s material. Points here for strong cast and an occasional chuckle, but otherwise there’s just no point. More »

Rudderless
Film Review: Rudderless

Well-done indie drama about a lost-soul house painter reborn through rock ’n’ roll is a nice actor’s showcase for star Billy Crudup and an impressive directorial debut for actor William H. Macy. But in spite of some good work onscreen, both hero and story lack the edge and originality to carry this drama beyond respectability. More »

Camp X-Ray
Film Review: Camp X-Ray

Army guard and Guantanamo detainee form a grudging relationship in a thoughtful but far-fetched drama. More »

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
Film Review: The Tale of The Princess Kaguya

As charming as it is delicate, this unusually low-key, if a tad overlong, animated feature brings yet more prestige to the famed Ghibli output. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Fury Review
Film Review: Fury

American tanks fight superior German forces in the closing days of World War II. More »

Birdman
Film Review: Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Virtuosic camerawork and a stellar ensemble of actors more than make up for the occasional moment of portentous twaddle in Alejandro G. Iñárritu's latest—and maybe his best—film. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here