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Kolobos (1999)

Arrow Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 3/12/2019

All Ratings out of
Audio: Ĺ
Extras: Ĺ

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/28/2019

The idiom ďdonít judge a book by its coverĒ has been dated back to the 1800s.  However, something which is seldom discussed is how in the 1980s, this phrase morphed into ďdonít judge a videotape by its coverĒ.  Yes, as Generation X prowled the video store shelves, we were forced to make snap decisions based solely on the video box art, which was often garish and misleading.  (You couldnít trust the text on the back of the box, because they always claimed that the movie was great.)  Given this, the box had a very small window in which to gets its message across.  Take for example, the cover art for Kolobos, which I remember encountering several times:



Based on this art, I always assumed that this was a monster.  (Specifically about a gila monster for some reason.)  Now, that Iíve seen the film, I know that the person who designed that art should have been fired.


Kyra (Amy Weber), an artist with a history of mental illness, Erica (Nicole Pelerine), an aspiring actress, Erica (Promise LaMarco), a spunky fast-food employee, Tom (Donny Terranova), a stand-up comedian, and Gary (John Fairlie), a wannabe pretty-boy have all answered an ad to take part in an experiment.  They have agreed to live in a house and have their whole lives captured by video cameras which are everywhere.  (Something about VHS is mentioned in the ad, clearly dating the film.)  The group arrives at the house, check it out, and then get to know one another.  Everyone is goofing around and having a good time, except for Kyra, who keeps seeing and hearing things.  Her paranoia turns to reality when the quintet realizes that the house isnít a fun experiment Ė itís a death trap.


Despite the fact that the makers of Kolobos state that they were influenced by MTVís The Real World, there is still something about the film which makes it feel ahead of its time.  Made in 1999, this pre-dates Big Brother and movies like My Little Eye.  The notion of a house full of video cameras may not seem very novel today, especially since so many people actually now choose to live in houses fill of video cameras, but the idea still came across as somewhat new back then.  And the fact that it isnít presented as a found-footage movie scores even more points.  Yes, the idea of trapping a group of people in a house where their every move is being recorded and where they suddenly find themselves in danger is a good one.


Unfortunately, that good idea is really all that Kolobos has going for it, as the rest of somewhat of a mess.  Filmmakers Daniel Kiatowitsch, David Todd Ocvirk, and Nne Ebong had met in film school and this film was their first post-graduate project.  This fact is not surprising, as much of Kolobos has sort of a student-film feel.  Once the central premise is introduced, we are treated to scene-after-scene of the participants running around the house, trying to find a way out.  Any sense of logic goes out the window, as the characters move from room-to-room, seemingly at random, and the choppy editing doesnít help.  The movie also pre-dates Saw in presenting some booby-trapped rooms, but these arenít terribly clever and itís often hard to understand how they work.  The characters are little more than stereotypes, and other than Erica, we really donít learn much about them.


And then we have the twist ending, which is really going to divide viewers.  I found it to be unsuccessful, as it can give the viewer an even greater sense that theyíve wasted their time watching the movie.  But, what do you expect from a movie which keeps dropping the word ďkolobosĒ, as if thatís a word which we use every day.  (The film does define the word, a few times in fact, but it still comes across as a character from Clash of the Titans.)  Again, I went into this movie expecting it to be about monsters, so I was pleasantly surprised by the trapped in a video house angle.  I just wish that the film could have kept being surprising.  The bad is able to outweigh the good, leaving Kolobos as a late 90s oddity.


Kolobos has a classified ad which would have cost a fortune on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Arrow Home Video.  The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 33 Mbps.  The image is sharp and clear, showing only mild grain at times and no defects from the source materials.  The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright.  The level of detail is good, but the picture does look somewhat flat at times.  The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.2 Mbps.  The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects.  The track does a fine job of re-producing the filmís score, which is a complete rip-off of the music from Suspiria and Deep Red.  There are some good stereo effects here, but the surround sound effects are very scant.


The Kolobos Blu-ray Disc contains several extra features.  We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Directors Daniel Kiatowitsch and David Todd Ocvirk.  "Real World Massacre: The Making of Kolobos" (22 minutes) has Kiatowitsch and Ocvirk, along with Producer Nne Ebong, guiding us through the film's origin and production.  This is made up primarily of interviews with this trio and clips from the film, along with a few stills from the set.  "Face to Faceless" (10 minutes) offers an interview with actor Ilia Volok who has a small role as a villain in the film.  "Slice & Dice: The Music of Kolobos" (9 minutes) gives Composer William Kidd a chance to confess to "borrowing" the music from other films.  "Rediscovering Kolobos" (6 minutes) is a short piece which comes from the 2018 UK premiere of the restored version of the film.  "Superhelden" (10 minutes) is a short film which Liatowitsch made as a child.  The extras are rounded out by an image gallery and two TRAILERS for the film.

Review Copyright 2019 by Mike Long