This is my first exposure to the Zellner brothers’ work, and I’m intrigued, but I found it a bit confusing. They have a quirky comic edge and a healthy respect for the bizarre that amuses and attracts me. That said, there is a darkness and a stillness to Kid-Thing that I found unsettling and hard to watch. The Sundance Film Festival is often a staging ground for experimental dramas, and I would put this film in that category.

The Players:

  • Director/Screenwriter: David Zellner
  • Cast: Sydney Aguirre, Susan Tyrrell, Nathan Zellner, David Zellner

Synopsis:

Annie is a depressed, angry, 10-year-old loner growing up outside of Austin. With no strong adult figure and no real friends, she spends her days in search of things to steal, smash, or terrorize. One day she discovers a trapped woman in an abandoned well in the woods. Unsure of what to do, or whether or not the woman is real or “the devil”, Annie refuses the woman’s pleas for rescue. Instead, she brings her food, drink, and a walkie-talkie, forming a bizarre and contentious relationship between them.

The Good:

Sydney Aguirre is a disturbingly convincing angry child with violent and destructive tendencies. The offbeat comedy of her deadbeat, useless father, and the antics of her boredom lend the film some much needed relief in Annie’s bleak and lonely existence. The humor in this film is drawn out of the prolonged repetition of sounds and actions; extending scenes beyond comfort until you’re led to an uneasy laughter. It succeeds in being at once both devastatingly depressing and cruelly funny.

The Bad:

In the same way that the comic scenes are drawn out, so are the dramatic and soul-crushing scenes. With what felt like a multitude of long, stationary shots chronicling the desperation and isolation of Annie’s life, it was difficult after a while to stomach.

Overall:

It seemed as though the humor and the drama were fighting each other for our attention in this film. There are some interesting and daring ideas, but the cohesion wasn’t quite realized. It was a scenic but bumpy ride.

Rating: 5/10