Fantasia favorite She’s Allergic to Cats is a purposely cheap, divisive fever dream
I’m not sure what director Michael Reich was smoking when he cobbled together this deranged tale of a dog groomer (Reich himself is a former dog groomer) who lives in vermin-infested squalor and dreams of producing an all-cat remake adaptation of Stephen King’s Carrie, but whatever it was…we want some!
Reich’s berserk film She’s Allergic to Cats played Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival recently (its World Premiere) to generally rave reviews, though I’m really not sure what to make of it. Certainly, there’s no other movie quite like it.
Actor Mike Pinkney plays a guy named Mike Pinkney, the aforementioned dreamer who is just trying to spend a quiet night alone in his dumpy flat without being bugged by the grim rats that infest the walls. When he meets the quirky Cora (Sonja Kinski, granddaughter of legendary German madman/genius Klaus Kinski), a girl who seems to be the female version of himself, Mike gets himself a cat to eliminate the rodents, a bid to prepare to bring the lovely Cora to his hopefully rat-free abode. But unfortunately for Mike – and as stated in the title – she’s allergic to cats. Can’t Mike catch a break?
She’s Allergic to Cats is a kind of horror movie, in presentation if not content. It’s a spastic, maniacal, experimental and purposely confrontational work that feels like watching 3 dozen old MTV bumpers on fast forward, edited together by Kenneth Anger. It’s not an easy watch. It can be obnoxious, with Reich breaking up the narrative every few minutes with an expository, histrionic montage of sound and student film fury, an attempt to decimate what is at its heart is a conventional fringe romantic comedy and pervert it into some kind of arty Grand Guignol opium fantasy.
This writer lives for strange, but often Reich’s approach smacks of hipster alienation; a stunt film that can’t sustain its running time and wears out its welcome fairly quickly.
But as we said…what exactly are we comparing it to? It’s a work of art, as self-satisfied as it may be, and as such it retains a kind of obscure power that will no doubt draw a devoted cult following. And we give it an extra dose of love for its reverent nods to unloved-by-most blockbuster misfires Howard the Duck and Congo. And did we mention that the rats are partial to bananas?
Approach She’s Allergic to Cats with caution and be prepared to walk away dazed, confused and dying to talk about it.
Go to the official website to learn more.