Stars: Devin Werder, Riley Werder and Reed Daniels
I adore the opening credit sequence of Kiddy Kiddy Bang Bang. Against a striking abstract but patriotic background and a striking theme, two twin girls in matching outfits point their guns at the camera and fire. Devin Werder kisses her pump action shotgun in slow motion, Riley Werder duckfaces at the smoke rising from her pistol and Reed Daniels loses his bloody brain matter to a string of bullets. This is as far away from subtle as it gets but it's modern day grindhouse at its finest, too slick to be old school but fitting very well with the Tarantino-inspired revivals. The oft quoted Edmund Burke line that 'the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,' closes them out with a rumble from the speakers. It's wrong on so many levels but I'm sure most grindhouse fans would pay to see what follows. What they need to know is that the best and worst things about this short film are that it's just as blatant.
I watched this a few times to try to figure out which side of a pretty obvious and dangerous line writer/director Dick Jane sits on. In my mind, this puts it aside from exploitation films generally, which ought to be transparent. The exploitation angle was always in getting people onto theatre seats, usually by promising more than would ever be delivered but with enough thrown up onto the screen for those punters to want to come back again. For all its faults, you can't accuse this of false advertising. Kiddy Kiddy Bang Bang delivers exactly what it says it will, no more and no less. It's about twin girls hunting down paedophiles, pure and simple, from accusation to blam blam blam. How you feel about that concept is going to phrase your appreciation, or lack of it, for this short film and, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest, for the expanded feature version when that becomes available. If you think you shouldn't watch, then don't.
For those who do, it's an annoyingly inconsistent film. It's capably shot, with good lighting and sound, and the characters all look precisely as they should, if your expectations are shaped by exploitation stereotypes. Yet the acting is terrible, both from the kids and the adults, and it's all out of sync, the sound on the copy I saw at Vimeo being an annoying half a second behind the visuals. At first, I thought the kids were being dubbed, perhaps to add in the more unpalatable lines without them having to say them, but it extended to the adults too. The detail is often hilarious, though it requires pausing to catch the full effect. As Sam searches findaperv.com to find the paedophile who apparently abused Penny, pause on Ezekiel Josiah Miloševic's details. You'll see that his ethnicity is 'cracker', his hair 'piss yellow', his eyes 'bloodshot with a hint of green', his sex 'massive' and his threat level 'deep shit'. This suggests a dark humour at play.
Yet the way the story unfolds, without any hint of depth, suggests something else. Sam and her sister Polly assume guilt through a single accusation and promptly wander over to the house of the accused to blow him away. Bill Hannigan only lives three blocks away, where we watch him underline his guilt by asking for God's permission to play. 'Go for it, Billy,' the voice in his head tells him. There's no ambiguity here at all, just a certain knowledge that these girls are dishing out the justice that society has failed to do. Polly shouts back that Johnny shouldn't call the cops if they fail to return. 'They're not on our side,' she says. When she blasts down the pervert and blood coats her face, there's a long, long pause backed by music that evokes a holy moment. What's more, the dedication to the victims of sexual abuse is followed by a sinister count. '1 down, billions to go,' it says, a number reiterated during the film. This isn't dark humour.
So I'm impressed by the balls Dick Jane shows in making this, I love the opening credits and it's possible that this could become a politically incorrect grindhouse joy in feature form. However, I don't think I can buy that on the basis of this short version. It all feels too acutely uncomfortable, too close to propaganda, too far over the line. On his website, Jane explains his cinematic goals and they're laudable. He's a 'radical creative' with an 'inexorable avant-garde stance'. He both condemns and venerates his audience through 'original perspective'. He addresses themes of 'sex, violence and the inhumanity of the human specie.' He's 'anti-sellout and anti-trend since year zero'. This is exactly the sort of filmmaker I want to watch. I'd like to see Kiddy Kiddy Bang Bang as a feature, with the Werder girls as the leads, but only if it drops the propaganda and gains instead either a sense of humour or depth through social comment, preferably both.