"Kalamity" is one of those low-flame indie thrillers in which characters — whether talking, drinking, working or getting worked up and arguing — conduct themselves with no lifelike physicality, or move as if they're underwater. From the hunched, haunted silhouette of disturbed Stanley ( Jonathan Jackson), which opens the movie, to the final shot of his traumatized buddy Billy ( Nick Stahl), pained and brooding while sitting at a stoplight, writer-director James M. Hausler seems convinced that deep emotional truths will seep from the screen if he keeps downshifting the pace to an arty crawl and holding his actors in a vise grip.
Though Stahl and Jackson occasionally give off credible sparks of wounded manhood — their characters having been through rough breakups — this hollow downer about deep wells of male anger, wallowing regret and mental disintegration is ultimately a thematic cop-out.
Hausler eschews believable human details and story logic for junky philosophizing and portentous narration, but, most distressing, he keeps the ugly visual truth of one male character's misogynistic psychosis conveniently hidden from audience eyes, whereas the pitiful rage that violently signifies his splintering friendships with men gets depicted onscreen in all its tragic grandeur.
— Robert Abele
"Kalamity." MPAA rating: R for pervasive language including sexual references, and some violent content. Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes. Playing at Laemmle's Sunset 5, West Hollywood.