May 23, 2023 Killer Kites (Movie Review)
There have been killer cars, killer tomatoes, killer donuts… so why not Killer Kites? Directed by Paul Dale (Silent But Deadly 2017, Sewer Gators 2022) and Austin Frosch (Warren 2013, Coup de Grâce 2023), their movie about murderous flying toys was initially planned for a May 26, 2023 release via Film Hub. However, due to the positive reaction its trailer got, the distributors brought its digital release forward, and it has been available to stream since May 3rd.
The story starts after Abby’s (Manon Pages: Leverage: Redemption 2021, Demigod 2021) grandmother dies and she inherits a simple old kite. Unimpressed, she hands it off to her brother, who is found dead the next day. According to her friend Daniel (Carter Simoneaux: Silent But Deadly 2017, Sewer Gators 2022), he was killed by the kite, which is controlled by a supernatural force. Once the kite starts racking up a body count, it is up to Abby, Daniel, and their friends to bring it back down to Earth permanently.
If that sounds silly, that is only because it is. Dale and Frosch previously made flicks about lethal mimes and sewer-dwelling alligators, so they were not exactly going to turn a movie about a bloodthirsty kids’ toy into something like 1982’s Sophie’s Choice. Even so, intentional schlock runs the risk of being plain bad instead of entertainingly bad.
Still, it makes a funny first impression, as the opener includes a goofy song about the killer kites, and great moments in history with kites edited into them. The Wright Brothers flying Kitty Hawk? It was just a big kite. Neil Armstrong on the Moon? The flag was a kite. JFK in Dallas? Watch out for the gun-toting kite. The photoshop jobs are intentionally cheesy, which can’t be said for credits. The white text on largely white images means Producer Zach Lee really has to squint to see his name.
From then on, the movie is basically what it says on the tin: a goofy Horror Comedy with some Airplane!-like jokes (“You’re just saying that because you want to get in my pants”, “No way. I could never fit into those”). Pages largely plays the straight woman to a series of kooky guys. Like Daniel, a horndog with big ideas, and a mysterious, shades-wearing man who knows more about the kite than he’s willing to let on…and he really likes McDonalds’ breakfast food.
The characters really have to sell the film, as the technical skills are not really there. The cheap looks are often part of the gag, and they can work. Yet the way its shots are framed and edited together feel more constrained and lack the creativity to make them stand out. There is only so much a film crew can do with a shoestring budget, but the equally threadbare Weird Fiction stretched it enough to make four horror shorts in one. Killer Kites is less inspired by comparison.
This in mind, those characters are fine. They are supposed to be goofy and make corny jokes, and they do that well. Simoneaux is arguably the best in this department as he bounces off of Pages well with his reads and timing. Pages is fair but has less gags to make as the movie’s (largely) level-head. That might be for the best, as the jokes can be rather forced. In fact, there are many more misses than hits.
The news report skits with Brock Peterson (Dale) start off funny (“Brock Peterson: Reading at a 3rd Grade Level”), then get old the more he appears. While the non-sequiturs feel like something viewers would’ve seen on YouTube back in 2008 (“Kites love bread!”). They might be worth it if the movie played up the Horror angle more. Unfortunately, it leans much more into the Comedy aspect, with the thrills and chills being way far apart.
Ultimately, Killer Kites is a self-aware Comedy with enough deaths to make it Horror-themed. The intentionally Birdemic-esque effects can be funny, and there are a few genuinely clever jokes in the script. Unfortunately, most of the gags miss or get old fast, feeling as cheap as the production quality. It is not a terrible film, and it is mercifully short at just under 70 minutes. But there are better low-budget Horror Comedies out there. Thus, for these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives Killer Kites 2 out of 5 stars.