I really really try to find the good in every project undertaken — I don’t necessarily believe in bad art (see my review of MOCA TV as proof), but Killed the Cat did its damnedest to make a believer out of me.
I think the problem lies in there being a sort of training inherent in YouTube — for you to be a successful storyteller in the medium, you sort of have to learn the art of telling a good narrative story. And for me, Killed the Cat did nothing of the sort. Perhaps then, it makes sense that Bertie Gilbert, the filmmaker (along w/ Alia Hassan), is not a YouTuber but rather a “filmmaker.” This short, which clocked in at a painfully meandering 19:40, in short, belongs on Vimeo. That’s not a slight against Vimeo — it knows what it is. It doesn’t necessarily want to be YouTube’s less popular arthouse little sister, but that’s what it is. As such, Killed the Cat feels not only out of place in this New Form Digital film program, but also on YouTube.
It’s tough to dissect the film because you are dealing with a “crazy person” as a protagonist — and while she isn’t actually “crazy,” she’s given to those sort of annoyingly artsy faux-musings about life. It’s kind of like hearing that kid in “American Beauty” wax poetic about that plastic bag caught in the wind for a third of an hour. At some point (quickly reached here), you just have to go, “Yeah, yeah, enough already.”
The story is simple enough: three crazy people bust out of an insane asylum and experience the world — curiosity being the theme of the “contest.” From there we get “a bit of the ol’ ultraviolence.” If only it could emotionally achieve that — or a semblance of it. I have never witnessed one of Bertie Gilbert’s films before, but even those who have, as posted in the comments, were largely hesitant to embrace this film effort.
The acting is not particularly strong (esp. Alia’s performance — one of the problems with having the two directors star in the film as well is that there isn’t anyone left to be objective), the edits were more jarring than transitional and everything felt a bit like amateur hour. It felt like the sort of film that someone made in their first year of film school and then had their dad threaten to sue the school if the project wasn’t screened at the end of the year with all the more accomplished works. For as disjointed as this film was, it never really caught the true idea of “crazy” — which I feel like it was going for … a sort of “Catch22,” “you’re not crazy for wanting out of the nuthouse” notion.
This film suffers from having Mitchell Davis in it — one of the only pieces to do so, because he feels so disjointed from the rest of the film. And maybe considering that he’s the “sane one,” that’s logical. But I can’t help but come back to the dead cat on Mitchell’s notepad and the word scrawled next to it: Bullshit.
Share this article if you felt the same way, scream at me in the comments if you didn’t.