Oliver Blackburn’s survival horror film is an engaging and tense thriller with a deceptively simple premise. It is mostly a single setting horror film, but implements its college setting to feel terrifying and completely alien. Even when we’re watching heroine Justine walking around campus with utmost familiarity and soaking in the peace of the usually crammed halls, once the darkness falls, it feels like one of the most terrifying hunting grounds for evil ever depicted. “Kristy” is set during Thanksgiving break, where young Justine is stuck in college. With all of her friends and boyfriend off to see their families, Justine has the campus to herself, along with two random security guards. Haley Bennett is fantastic as young Justine, a seemingly random victim of a group of hooded masked killers.
Based upon the prologue they’ve been hunting local girls named Kristy, and are convinced young Justine is Kristy. After being confronted by their female accomplice (as played by a pale Ashley Greene) in a gas station mini mart, the foursome of strangers follow Justine back to campus and begin terrorizing her, making it painfully clear they intend to provide her with a very painful death. The problem is Justine isn’t so intent on being victimized, even as the group of masked assailants begins garnering the upper hand, and she begins to fight back tooth and nail, much to their surprise. “Kristy” ramps up the tension surprisingly well as the plot progresses, and at eighty minutes, director Blackburn leaves little room for flab or filler. Much of “Kristy” is centered on how Justine will use the college setting in her favor. Once she starts fighting back, I was anxious to see what new method she’d devise to either distract her potential murderers or take them down.
Director Blackburn films some rather tense moments of cat and mouse where our weapon wielding maniacs sneak around in the darkness, while Justine is either left helpless or has to make some very hard decisions to ensure her own survival. While Blackburn does introduce some gratuitous cannon fodder to the fold, including a stoner and his guard dog for some reason, he makes up for the intention of upping the body count unnecessarily by gradually peeling away at our villains. In its own right, it’s a nice twist on what we initially assume is a random encounter with Justine crossing the wrong person at the wrong time. In the end I enjoyed what “Kristy” amounted to. It’s a very good, intense, and worthwhile cat and mouse horror thriller in the vein of “You’re Next” and “Ils Them,” that uses its simplicity as a means of devising some great tension and terror at every corner.