The Koala Klub Killings

This without a doubt has to be one of the single most surreal films I have ever seen. It seems entirely fitting that it is being released for the April Fool’s Day weekend and I am sure this scheduling is planned as some kind of elaborate double bluff. There will definitely be a number of people who just don’t believe this movie can really exist. It sounds terrible, it sounds like no one would ever have funded it but actually it’s (mostly) quite good.
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The fairly laboured narrative revolves around a string of murders committed by the host of a children’s television show, the Koala Klub of the terrible title. It seems that although the program is successful and the presenter is famous, he is mortified that he is not known for being the serious actor he always wanted to be. Convinced he will now never get the reputation he is sure he deserved he goes about bumping off those he considers responsible using methods related to the antics of the characters on his show. The gag is that even though everything about the killings points to a connection with this man no one suspects him because he is that nice guy from that thing all those kids love. I have to say though that odd and tonally uneven as the movie is, this is a gag that mostly works. 

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The Koala Klub Killings actually has some interesting things to say about notions of celebrity and pokes quite hard fun at the people who try to launch or reignite their careers by doing gigs on reality shows. There is one particularly grizzly death that involves someone having to eat a live bug as part of a jungle challenge and other demises involve glove puppets and art materials being used in a way that they were simply not designed for.

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The film is derivative of other movies such as Theatre of Blood and Death to Smoochy and works in a similar way to a panto in that it takes a while to get into the sense of humour but the jokes are so relentless and delivered with such gusto that eventually you begin to find it amusing. (Panto does actually feature in the story at one point as well.) Not all the laughs land, there is one moment where a group of children known as the ‘Koala Klub Kids’ are seen wearing white T-Shirts with KKK emblazoned across the front that is horribly misjudged and one recurring gag about the killer being known for a provincial theatre production of Hamlet is heinously ripped off from Iron Man 3. There is also a cameo by an ex CBBC broom cupboard presenter that falls totally flat (I can only assume they’d wanted to get Phillip Schofield but couldn’t) and don’t even get me started on the weird manga style animated dream sequence where the guy imagines himself as a pink headed Koala hitman probably using up the majority of the film’s budget. A lot of what goes on is funny though and I genuinely laughed out loud on a couple of occasions.

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This is a debut feature for writer/director Will Kempe but he has previously done script work on both Spaced and The Mighty Boosh and many of the quirky sensibilities of those two off centre sitcoms have carried over to this film. Lead actor Robert Armin has genuine screen presence and good comic timing too which is just as well as the success of the film does largely rest on him. There will also be a nostalgic appeal for some as the tropes of children’s entertainment feel quite particular to the 1980s.

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It’s a strange film and no mistake but actually I recommend it. The Koala Klub Killings is in select cinemas and on demand now. If you enjoy quirky dark comedies I suggest you search it out.

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The Ripley Factor:
The gender politics aren’t bad here. Crucially none of the victims are women and the police officer investigating the crimes is a smart and competent woman.

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Is this one for the kids?
The film is rated 15 and while the methods of some of the murders are quite unpleasant you don’t really get to see anything.

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