Hell’s Kitty, written, directed by and starring Nicholas Tana, is billed as the feature-film adaptation of the web-series of the same name. This is somewhat misleading; a more accurate description is that it’s a film cobbled together by re-editing the web-series, adding a handful of new scenes and slapping it all together through use of a flimsy wrap-around.
The series, Hell’s Kitty, is far from an internet phenomenon, with the official YouTube channel having well under a thousand subscribers. Presumably, this was a passion project from those making the show or they just realised how easily they could repackage the material that they’d already shot in an attempt to make it profitable.
The basic set-up is that, Nick, the main character, owns a cat named Angel who is demonically possessed and requires an exorcism because they keep killing people that come to visit. It’s a great premise for a horror comedy but it’s completely wasted here.
The web-series is completely episodic and the film-edit doesn’t change that. It feels as though you’re sat watching YouTube on auto-play as it serves up a series of incredibly weak, barely connected skits. Sometimes subplots are introduced that get completely forgotten about once the next “episode” begins.
The plotting seems to be much stronger in the original web-series. It seems as though attempting to streamline the thing caused a great deal of vital exposition and set-up to be left on the cutting room floor, rendering the film borderline incomprehensible at times.
There are frequent moments where it’s not entirely clear what’s supposed to be happening – often when the cat attacks people with a complete lack of special effects and we just see them running and screaming from a POV camera before disappearing (presumably, the cat ate the entire body). And when we do see a dead body, they always appear to have died from a few, realistically light, cat-scratches to the face.
The film’s production values certainly don’t help things. Dead pixels pop up during one scene and porn-star, Nina Hartley, acts circles around the rest of the main cast during her brief cameo, which should raise flags.
All of this might have been forgivable if a single joke landed, but the film is desperately unfunny. At one point, a character refers to the protagonist’s “brat… I mean cat”, which largely sums up the level of humour on which it’s operating.
The final nail in the coffin for Hell’s Kitty are its somewhat problematic elements. The web-series offers clear explanation that Angel is jealous of Nick showing affection towards others. That’s never properly explained in this edit so you’re just left watching a series of women die in weirdly sexualised contexts. Add into the mix a couple of sequences that play homosexuality purely as a joke and the whole thing leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
HELL'S KITTY / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: NICHOLAS TANA / STARRING: DOUG JONES, MICHAEL BERRYMAN, NINA HARTLEY, COURTNEY GAINS, JOHN FRANKLIN / RELEASE DATE: MARCH 13TH (US), TBC (UK)