She’s Allergic to Cats (2016) [Fantasia International Film Festival 2016]

allergictocatsLife is hard in Hollywood for a budding filmmaker who works as a dog groomer to make ends meet.  As he struggles to survive and get his career going, Mike Pinkney daydreams and makes experimental videos and meets the girl of his dreams.  As he tries to get his future to be good, he struggles through work, with his dreams, with his rat infested apartment, his landlord, and his possible relationship.

She’s Allergic to Cats is written and directed by Michael Reich who creates the cinematic equivalent of mixed media art.  Here he collages images on top of images with typed text and what looks like newspaper cut outs at times.  The film boasts few characters, about a dozen, with two leads that are falling in love amongst the chaos.  His film is literally layered at times with image pile ups, forcing the viewer to pay attention at all times unless they do not mind missing something.  This is done in an interesting way that comes off as experimental and retro at the same time.  Once one gets used to the video quality of the film, getting into its story and style becomes easy and the film becomes rather interesting.  The story is not all that original but its execution is what allows the film to stay fresh and entertaining.

The lead in an eponymous role is Mike Pinkney who does poor schlep well, showing a down trotted man who has almost given up.  His part is not super complex so he doesn’t get to really stretch his acting chops much as it would have been good to see more variety, a more complex arc.  Supporting Pinkney is Sonja Kinski as Cora.  She is charming and sexy, plays her part a bit cold which seems to be on purpose and which unfortunately does not make her all that much of a dream girl to this reviewer.  A few other characters get decent screen time with Honey Davis as Mike’s landlord Honey showing the most talent playing up his character’s weird and creepy side.

The way She’s Allergic to Cats is made, the whole (small) crew did great with Michael Reich’s vision.  Cinematography by Zach Driscoll and film editing by Forrest Brie pair up with special effects supervised by Mike Pinkney.  All of this comes together to build an odd and almost fascinating mix of images and styles.  Images overlay on other images to create something visually loud.  The film has a video look that is very purposeful and sometimes uneven to emphasize this.  Everything is planned down to the sunglasses wearing dog and the dark scenes of bananas.

She’s Allergic to Cats is light experimental fair, easy to digest, and entertaining, but it probably won’t make a huge mark on most viewers.  The style is interesting and visually cacophonic, the characters are simple and so is the story.  It’s worth a watch for its style alone.

Fantasia International Film Festival ran from July 14th until August 3rd, 2016 and will be back in the summer of 2017.