Dir. Devon Oman (2022)
A killer balloon stalks the streets and it's up to a hard-partying group of girls to stop him.
Produced by Dead Prairies Productions out of Canada, The Killer Balloon is a clever satire that's as socially impactful as it is hilarious. While it may seem ridiculous to make a movie about a balloon that kills people, and it most certainly is, it's also a fantastic exercise in just how far you can take a story that would've been just enough for a fast-paced short for most filmmakers. Director Devon Oman, however, stretches it to a full hour, a runtime that never feels either rushed or too long.
Dead Prairies has a little acting troupe all their own, sharing actors between movies and working together in a way that really adds to the cohesion of the group. You can tell that these actors really enjoyed working on the project, as further evidenced by the outtakes at the end of the film. Oman, who also wrote the film, has a wicked sense of humor that, while juvenile, is rarely not funny, a rarity in low-budget indie productions. Some of it may be low-brow, but it's funny enough that you never feel disrespected as an audience or the victim of inside jokes that often tend to permeate truly independent films.
There's very little gore in the film, but what there is is done pretty well. It's a slapstick-style horror film, and as unrefined as the comedy may be at times, it's smarter and more skillful than I expected. The actors all do a decent job, the direction is actually pretty stellar (especially in the scenes that depend on getting the balloon to fly just so), and the entire thing is pulled together phenomenally well for a movie about a fucking killer balloon. It's rare that I would tell someone to just immediately go out and buy an ultra-low-budget indie flick regardless of their enjoyment of such fare, but Dead Prairies is a production company that is worthy of being supported.
It's actually what drew me to the film in the first place. Dead Prairies gives one hundred percent of their profit to the local SPCA. The film cost something like $300 (or whatever that is in loonies) to make, and everything above that goes to saving dogs, cats, and whatever other Canadian animals that live in their shelters. In a world where most of the profit for movies goes to line some fat cat's pockets in Hollywood or to making the next AAA feature that graces the big-screen, it's really nice to know that there are people out there who are using their art to make a difference. Everyone reading this should run out to their website and purchase a whole bunch of their films. Even if you absolutely hate them, at worst you're saving a bunch of animals. And there's not a whole lot better than that.
Who this movie is for: Indie horror fans, Horror comedy lovers, Canucks who love animals
Bottom line: Funny, well-made, and more than a little dumb, The Killer Balloon is the horror comedy that you didn't know you need in your life. Loony the Killer Balloon may never be the next horror icon, but he's loads of fun to watch and well worth checking out. For socially-conscious indie filmmakers, you could do a whole lot worse than Dead Prairie Productions and director Devon Oman. Check out their store, pick up a thing or two, and save some animals while you're at it.