The ’90s were coming to an end when Armitage Pictures released the independent horror film Kolobos. A period in horror where people were getting tired of slashers and gore and were looking for a less is more approach, such as The Blair Witch Project. This meant Kolobos hit the market at exactly the wrong time, as the film gives us plenty of gore. Is this why the movie never took off? Maybe, but other issues kept it down. Let’s see what those are, but first a quick look into the story of Kolobos.
Reality TV is starting to take off (why? why did this ever have to happen?), and everyone wants to get in on the guaranteed success. A mysterious casting call appears in the paper (remember when ads appeared in newspapers?) asking for adventurous people who don’t mind baring it all for VHS (haha). A group of people, the usual generic bunch, consisting of the comedic knucklehead, the ditzy bimbo, the know it all nerd, the rising star, and the possible artistic psycho, head to the house where the filming will take place, and it doesn’t take long before things start going off the rails.
The house automatically locks its doors and windows, and the people inside are trapped. One by one, they start dying in graphic ways. Could the killer be one of the remaining cast members, or is it someone else entirely, someone who is never explained or developed?
Kolobos, for the most part, is a pretty straight forward slasher, but as the film progresses, layers of the film are peeled back to reveal that not everything you have seen is meant to be real. However, this ambiguity is the product of a movie that wasn’t long enough, and extra scenes were filmed and tacked onto the beginning and end. The scenes work to set up a potential sequel and leave things open, but they do come across a bit jarring as they are shot so different compared to the rest of the movie. The directors use the first-person perspective for most of the opening shots, which may trick the viewer into thinking they are watching a low budget FMV game (seriously, one scene acted out just like a cheesy FMV). As for the ending, it leaves things way up in the air, and you’ll be guaranteed to be scratching your head. I would have preferred the more straightforward slasher approach of the middle section, but I applaud the creators with trying something different.
Arrow Video has scooped up this unknown horror film and is bringing it to the masses with a Blu-ray release. The film’s transfer is rough looking, having been shot on 35mm film, but somehow looking worse for wear during dark scenes. The grain can be overtly in your face and distracting. I love film grain, but this can be a bit much at times.
Audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (LPCM 2.0 mix is also available on the disc), and I didn’t notice any issues with the soundtrack. The dialogue was clear for the most part, and the Goblinesque soundtrack by William Kidd comes through nice and loud.
Extra Features are a bit of a mixed bag, as none of them is overly long. The longest feature clocks in at 22-minutes and is titled Real World Massacre: The Making of Kolobos. It features interviews with co-writers and co-directors Daniel Liatowitsch and David Todd Ocvirk, along with co-writer and producer Nne Ebong. They discuss getting out of film school and working on Kolobos, which was their first film. They talk about the casting, the difficulties of getting a longer runtime, and the release. The next feature is an interview with the faceless killer in the film, played by Ilia Volok (Air Force One, Hunter Killer), which runs just under 10-minutes. Next up we have a Still Gallery, a 10-minute short film from Daniel Liatowitsch titled Superhelden. A directory commentary is provided with the short film, and I would recommend checking it out, as he gives a lot of neat tidbits about the short. Rounding out the features is a short 6-minute feature shot during the UK showing of the film just recently, the original trailer, a 15th-anniversary trailer, and finally a commentary Daniel Liatowitsch and David Todd Ocvirk. As always, Arrow Video has provided a nice booklet with an essay on the making of the film, and a bit of information on the transfer.
Booklet information on the transfer:
Kolobos has been exclusively restored by Arrow Films and is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with stereo and 5.1 audio.
The original 35mm camera negative element was scanned in 2K resolution on a Lasergraphics Director at EFilm, Burbank. The film was graded and restored at Dragon DI, Wales. Picture grading was completed on a Pablo Rio system and restoration was completed using PFClean and Revival software.
The original audio mixes were produced by the filmmakers.
All materials for this restoration were made available by filmmakers Daniel Liatowitsch and David Todd Ocvirk, who have approved this restoration.
Kolobos is a low budget film, that much is evident when you take into account the sketchy acting from pretty much everyone. However, once the film gets to the good parts, the gory murder scenes, the movie starts to open up and we get to enjoy it. Unfortunately, the ending leaves us utterly confused, but that still isn’t enough to ruin your overall enjoyment. If this movie interests you at all, definitely give Arrow Video’s solid Blu-ray a look.