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Overall Rating

Awesome: 30.77%
Worth A Look: 7.69%
Pretty Bad: 15.38%
Total Crap: 0%

1 review, 7 user ratings

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Tears of Kali
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by Kevin Thomas

"Get ready to cringe...."
3 stars

Let’s not beat around the bush here, when a movie opens with a naked blonde cutting her eyelids off with a pair of nail scissors, you know it’s not going to be pretty. And pretty it isn’t. Throughout the rest of the movie people impale themselves on pencils, get huge chunks of wood driven through their eyes and rip their own faces off. Leave the kids at home for this one eh?

Tears of Kali is a collection of three short films all connected by a strange and mysterious meditative cult. The cult finds new and strange ways for its members to explore their subconscious, but what they find there (and what they bring back with them) is not friendly and won’t think twice about eviscerating you. It's an interesting scenario, and one with plenty of potential, and it's a shame that most of this potential is squandered by simple lack of narrative focus or lack of imagination.

The first tells the story of a reporter interviewing a cult survivor living in a mental institution after she started ranting about being guilty of the exceptionally brutal murder of her boyfriend. She clearly and irrefutably wasn't, but the reporter smells a rat. She slowly realises that the true culprit is far scarier than she could have imagined. The second is about a violent speed addict undergoing therapy after beating a tourist into a coma. Unfortunately, when he awakes from being beaten unconscious by his therapist in a room covered in plastic sheets he begins to wonder which one of them is truly more dangerous. The third and final chapter (where you hope the endless stream of questions posed are going to be answered, but are not) tells the story of a faith healer who has lost faith in himself (go figure) and his wife. When he releases a woman from the grips of a dark evil, they accidentally release it into their cellar. Well, if they can’t work out not to go down in the cellar on Halloween by now then they deserve everything they get frankly.

The three stories are very effective in their own ways, but do very little to cast any light on the larger issues at hand. What is this cult? Where did it come from? Who is the mysterious man with the white beard? All good questions that remain frustratingly unanswered by the climax. Falling victim to the same pitfall as Ju-On, it weaves a mysterious web of ghosts and ghoulies then forgets to really explain any of it. Vague references to clichés like ‘it’s an evil older than you could ever understand’ and the like are made, but nothing concrete enough to justify ripping someone’s brains out of the back of their head.

The various cast members put in competent performances in their respective chapters. Nothing standout brilliant, but nothing detrimental to the movie either, they just get the job done. The odd mix of hard rock and violins on the soundtrack does well to heighten the atmosphere when it’s needed, and the shaky hand-cam work can be just disorientating enough to get you on edge but not enough that you lose sight of the action. From such technical viewpoints the film succeeds. The only real technical criticism is the highly questionable translation; although it’s understandable a fair few sentences need a second glance to be fully grasped. Other than that (which you can hardly blame on the director) it’s only the sub-par narrative that really lets it down. Too much mystery and gore without the solid foundations to justify it.

Overall it’s a shame. It could have been brilliant if it had decided to actually unravel the mystery it was creating rather than thickening it. But the gore-hounds amongst you will have a ball over this one, as when it gets messy it gets very messy indeed…

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 11/01/04 11:29:47
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 ScreamFest L.A. Horror Festival. For more in the 2004 ScreamFest L.A. series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Leeds Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Leeds Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

12/12/06 Indrid Cold The eyelid scene will go down in horror history, but overall it's just cheap and silly. 2 stars
9/17/06 gebhard Kevin's review is straight to the point. Mystikal therapy stuff followed by gore. 2 stars
7/08/05 jon generic see the german language version & the reviewer's questions all get answered 4 stars
10/24/04 Tomasso Senjuni This dark picture follows me in my dreamsand soul... 5 stars
10/13/04 alex hard stuff 5 stars
10/11/04 George Clooney Best German Movie I ever saw! 5 stars
10/11/04 Britannie Taylor ...this savage Heart Stopper will grip you... till to the bloody (and lyrical) end! 5 stars
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