Fantasia presents King Knight, book tickets here.
Sometimes short is better. Over the years, I have lost track of the number of disappointing feature-length movies I have seen that would have made exquisite shorts. For one reason or another, directors often stretch their stories or ideas beyond the possibilities they present. Sadly, Richard Bates Jr’s latest movie is one of those ideas that looked great on paper but only works for 50% of the runtime. King Knight is already short at 1 hour and 18 minutes, and this offbeat coven comedy has fleeting moments of brilliance. Still, ultimately a runtime of fifty minutes would have sufficed as the satirical comedy is stretched beyond its limits.
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Thorn (Matthew Gray Gubler) and his partner Willow (Angela Sarafyan) happily lead a small band of friends, followers and fellow witches in a small Wiccan coven. It’s a group of outsiders who have found solace and peace in each other’s arms, their simple, almost make-believe life shielded by a friendship-generated protection circle as they reject the capitalist world around them. However, under the surface of this idealistic existence, turmoil bubbles. For example, Desmond and Neptune are worried that their relationship is built on a lie, while Percival believes he isn’t good enough for his partner Rowena, and Thorn and Willow, have become camp counsellors rather than leaders. But when Thorn receives an invite to his high school reunion, a secret escapes that he has attempted to keep hidden – Thorn was a straight-A student who played lacrosse and wore chinos. It is a blow that the coven can’t escape as Thorn is banished. As Thorn sets off into the city on his own for the school reunion, the coven must face its own hypocrisy and double standards.
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While attempting to explore themes of individuality, diversity, and difference, King Knight becomes lost in an ocean of competing ideas where you wonder whether Richard Bates Jr is lampooning the coven or our social constructs of normality. As a result, the audience is left wondering whether they are laughing at Thorn and his followers or the capitalist society surrounding them. This creates a strange dichotomy as intelligent humour in the opening quasi-mockumentary morphs into a childish self-healing slapstick comedy. Unfortunately, the result is a confusing and disjointed film that outstays its initial welcome.
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