Movies are capable of a lot of things. They can scare you, make you sad, make you laugh or lift you up and encourage you when you’re feeling down. And sometimes movies just leave you completely confused and unsure of what it is that you just watched. That basically sums up how I felt once I had finished watching the bizarre Australian horror film, Cat Sick Blues.
The film opens up with two young women watching cat videos online while getting high. This is very relatable to most folks — weed and cats are quite popular. They hear some scattering up on their roof and one of the women heads up to investigate, assuming that it is their cat making all that noise. Once up there she finds a man wearing a cat mask over his head hiding out. Oddly, she reacts by laughing, but is still aware that this situation is bad and attempts to call the police but drops her phone. She is then beheaded with a shovel by this cat-masked lunatic.
We soon learn that this masked killer is a dude named Ted (Matthew C. Vaughan) that recently lost his lifelong cat. This would be a terrible trauma for anyone and for Ted it pushes him over the edge and he snaps. He concocts a plan that he believes will bring his beloved feline back to life and to achieve this goal he must kill 9 humans.
As I concept I really like this idea. I think there is something within this basic story that could work and make for a fun, silly horror film. But Cat Sick Blues never quite gets there. In fact, we never really learn what Ted’s plan is exactly. We have the basic outline — he kills people and saves their blood. But then what? And how come he kills just women? I guess we could just assume he’s having a mental breakdown and so you can’t really explain anything he does, but that feels like a cop-out.
Further complicating matters is that Ted begins a relationship of sorts with a girl he meets named Claire at a self-help group for people dealing with the loss of the pet. Claire (Shian Denovan) and she had a popular internet cat that was killed by a hardcore fan. And that’s a whole other bag of confusion. When her cat is killed it seems like the film wants to portray that as an emotional moment, but it’s also sort of funny? And it’s not like a dark comedy funny, it’s like a slapstick funny. There’s this huge problem with tone throughout the movie. Anyway, Claire and Ted start a relationship that literally makes no sense. Imagine Maniac where Joe Spinell’s character carries around a dead cat. That’s sort of what this movie is like.
As the movie moves along Ted begins to slowly morph more into his cat-like persona. He gets some killers claws that he uses to inflict pain on his victims. He also gets a huge strap-on penis. Why? I don’t know. And is it a cat penis? I guess.
On the plus side, the film does use practical effects and that I can always get behind. In one particular scene, Ted goes to town on a room full on unsuspecting women and it’s a bloody mess. Gallons and gallons of bright red blood spewing all about. It’s visually interesting, to say the least.
The performance from Vaughan is certainly a highlight. I don’t understand the character or his motivations, but he’s committed to the part and really leaves himself out there.
Cat Sick Blues is a mixed bag that never gets things together. It bounces from being goofy gore to trying to have strong emotional moments. The antagonist appears to hate women, but there’s no real back story as to why that is. And there really isn’t much of a protagonist to counter him, unless you give that role to Claire by default. The film also hints at providing a message on the dangers of social media and how connected an audience can become with video bloggers and the like, but it never runs with that idea to provide anything of substance. That’s a real shame too because as a cat lover I had high hopes for this one.
If there is a real positive to Cat Sick Blues it is that it will leave an impression. No one who watches this movie will forget it and that counts for something.
Cat Sick Blues is available on DVD from Wild Eye Releasing. The special features contain two audio commentaries and a making-of feature.