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Film Review: For All Its High Concept, “HellKat” Delivers All the Wrong Moves

Written by: Adam Vaughn | February 1st, 2021

Film poster: “HellKat”

HellKat (Scott Jeffrey/Rebecca Matthews/Michael Hoad, 2021) 2 out of 4 stars.

Coming in as a hellish, grizzly display of cinematic adventure, HellKat promises a violent, action-packed experience with a ghoulish twist. Almost immediately, we can see that while the film contains immense potential to be a nightmarish journey about fighting for your life, HellKat falls short of producing any sort of fresh, bold content. As the film progresses, it becomes clear that the directors are attempting to tell a partial-fantasy genre story on a minimal budget, its demons and demonic-like characters created with little believability, and a story that never really takes the viewer anywhere unique or impressionable.

HellKat tells the tale of Katrina Bash, known in the underworld as “HellKat,” a savage, highly skilled martial artist with a dark secret in her past that leaves her isolated and alone. Katrina is offered a shot at redemption by a mysterious and ghastly figure, to compete in a fighting ring smackdown; the winner gets a whole new life, loser gets no life! Can Katrina survive in the ring with giant, monstrous opponents, and the odds completely against her?

Sarah T. Cohen in HELLKAT ©Uncork’d Entertainment

The film’s initial aesthetic is interesting enough to propel the protagonist down a path that quickly blurs the lines between reality and dark fantasy, sending “HellKat” down a path of temptation and violence. Actress Sarah T. Cohen (Pagan Warrior) delivers a sturdy, consistent performance as Katrina, not enough to create a memorable lead role but enough to carry the story forward. Ryan Davies (Don’t Speak), as “Jimmy Scott” (essentially The Devil), may possibly be the most memorable character of the film, delivering a sinister performance with a huge, intimidating smile. At various moments in HellKat, the directors utilize simple lighting techniques to create abstract, unearthly settings, which is definitely noteworthy.

Unfortunately, HellKat’s premise seems pointless after a while, concluding in a senseless and unimpressive way and leading us on a journey that is both clichéd and boring. The action sequences are underwhelming, for the most part, and the low-budget of props and costume design detaches the viewer from the “underworld” aesthetic of the film. Surprisingly, HellKat often has sluggish pacing, especially when introducing exposition and attempting to write in the connections formed between Katrina and supporting characters. Ultimately, the film attempts to grab at high concepts with little effort, to the expected result.

l-r: Sarah T. Cohen and Ryan Davies in HELLKAT ©Uncork’d Entertainment

Adam Vaughn is a graduate of the Film & Moving Image program at Stevenson University, with a focus in Cinematography and Production. He also has a minor in Theater and Media Performance. Adam works as a freelance photographer and videographer, focusing his craft on creating compelling photographic and cinematic imagery. Adam is excited to join the Film Festival Today team and explore the world of cinema and visual arts.

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