| May 1, 2013

When Raymond Saxx (Goran Visnjic) turns up in some kind of ward for the criminally insane, accused of killing his wife’s lover, I imagine he feels a bit like Alice; tumbling down the rabbit hole.  He’s disoriented, drunk and/or high, with moments of lucidity but it takes him about half the film to really find his footing and begin to adapt to his surroundings.  It’s a long time to sit through his hallucinations and the general dream-logic of the film’s setting.  As he comes out of his stupor, he begins to make friends and enemies with the other inmates, who include Butterfly (Portia Doubleday), Mousey (Kate Del Castillo), Ben (Jason Mewes; Clerks), and Detroit (Tommy Lister; The Dark Knight).  All of the inmates are under the thumb of the tyrannical security guard Johnson (D.B. Sweeney), who is about as corrupt as they come; backing the drug-dealing enterprise of Ben, intimidating inmates, and raping them.

The interesting thing to me about K-11 is that the only female character is the one woman guard, Theresa Luna (Sonya Eddy).  All of the inmates are male, but many of them are transvestites, who are accepted as women in this environment without question.  So, we have a lot of male actors playing men dressed as women, but we also have female actors playing men dressed as women.  There are a couple of obvious reasons for this.  One, they wanted the characters to have breasts because they are committed to being women so much that they have implants.  Two, they wanted the audience to be able to see these characters as sexually appealing, which they are.

Once a real plot begins to develop to get Saxx out of the “dorm,” the movie does have a lot going for it.  Unfortunately, that plot doesn’t come into play until way late in the film; making this feel like a short film which someone tried to expand into a feature.  It takes forever for Saxx to become lucid enough to interact with his environment.  Then he has to begin the process of getting to know the other inmates, forming allegiances, and dealing with enemies.  It’s an incredibly slow structure that does eventually pay off, but the film could be half as long and twice as rewarding.

Special features include deleted scenes, interviews with the cast, a behind the scenes featurette, audio commentary by the director Jules Stewart and producer Tom Wright, and a music video.  None of the settings are particularly nice to look at.  Everything goes out of its way to be drab and lifeless, so I can’t recommend the blu-ray on this one.  Available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Breaking Glass Pictures.

About the Author:

Joe Ketchum Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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