When MTV’s The Real World debuted in 1992, it revolutionized the television landscape. (It also completely changed the channel’s format.) It was cheap, easily made, and somehow popular. The genre became increasingly popular over the next few years and by the turn of the century, reality shows were the most popular thing on TV. In 1999, Kolobos used the idea as the foundation for an interesting horror story.
The plot for Kolobos will not amaze anyone with its originality. Five random people answer an ad in a newspaper. The deal is they get to live for three months in a home with all expenses paid. The five consist of a fast food worker, an aspiring actress, a stand up comedian, a college student, and a girl with a mysterious past. What separates Kolobos from a run of the mill slasher is the everything in the house is being recorded.
Voyeurism is not new to movies. Horror movies and sexual tension go together hand in glove. Kolobos is a different take on the idea of being watched. In 1999, the idea of every action knowingly being seen by some unknown person was still something of a novel idea. In Kolobos however, the story never uses sex to create any sort of fear and focuses more on the scares. It is an interesting concept that is definitely a product of its time.
The concept may be ahead of its time, but it does not make the movie any better. The acting is hit or miss. Amy Webber (yes, that Amy Webber, wrestling fans) does fine as the troubled Kyra, Nichole Pelerine is your basic aspiring actress and the males in the film are bad to awful. Horror films have never been a source of high caliber acting, but poor performances here negatively impact the movie.
There are also a few early reveals that take the fun out of the movie. Part of what makes Kolobos so interesting is its creative opening. The majority of it is shot in first person. It gives a neat feel of the audience being in the movie. At times, it can be a little corny (the wooden acting makes it sometimes look like you are watching an instructional video at work) but it is an inventive choice that adds to the story.
Much of the mystery built early on is ruined when the gender of the person we are seeing the action through is casually disclosed. When they say the name of the person, it is almost as if it is supposed to be a big deal, but it is done with a lackluster pacing. If a little more time was spent building to these revelations, they would have been more impactful.
(The movie does lead to a twist that is poorly executed, but is actually pretty clever.)
Kolobos does have some great special effects. The first kill comes out of nowhere. It is effective and surprisingly gory. It initially seems like the movie will be about tension and paranoia. These are certainly themes, but this is more of a slasher than anything else. While it would be inaccurate to describe Kolobos as a gore fest, the killings it does have are brutal and well shot. The shock of seeing the violence enhances the moments.
Kolobos ventured out into new territory in 1999. A horror movie about five people picked to live in a monitored house was an interesting idea for the times. This premise ultimately serves very little to the plot. Instead, the audience is treated to an engaging slasher that has many ups and downs. It is certainly worth a watch, but be prepared to not be blown away.