James D. Froio
When it comes to being interested in someone, we've all jumped on that "more than I can chew" bandwagon from time to time. It just goes without saying that it happens and is as reliable as chocolate and peanut butter. In this particular case, the title says it all. Johnny killed the cat. Mia's cat, actually. After promising to look after Leo the cat so that Mia can go camping, Johnny spends the rest of the film trying to figure out what to do and how to break the news. He's never been the most responsible of people, but taking care of a little kitty should have been easy-peasy. Now, he needs advice and most definitely doesn't have a large friend pool to draw from. James D. Froio directs a quirky, black and white feature full of odd characters and even some strangely normal ones. Who killed the cat? Johnny did.
The thing about "Johnny Killed the Cat" is that although can be funny on the surface, it's really not. Johnny has an alcoholic father who doesn't want much to do with him, some crazy brothers, an ex-girlfriend he's cheated on, and not many friends. From what I can tell, no friends really. As Froio's movies plays on, some of the conversations are comedic, but something doesn't feel right. That something? Johnny really is pretty much alone in life, and to top things off? He's also kind of creepy. His love interest, Mia, is clearly - one hundred percent not interested in him romantically. It even seems like she's not interested in him as a friend, and yet Johnny continues onward with his pursuit. You could bring up the old adage, if at first you don't succeed... but Johnny has taken things to another level entirely - by offering to watch her cat. The fact he does everything in this film he can possibly do, to make up a convincing lie, just proves my theory even more. It all adds an extra layer of depth that may have been accidental, but I liked it all the same. This isn't a romantic comedy with a shining leading character - making "Johnny Killed the Cat" feel a little bit sinister, which made me want to keep watching.
I loved seeing the "Scorsese" poster in this flick because it fits in just perfectly style-wise. Like the famed director's movies, "Johnny Killed the Cat" enjoys hanging on a shot a little longer than maybe it should, and relishes in the film's slightly longer run time. This is a low-budget independent film, damn it, and this is how I want it to look and play. For me, however, it was a little long and some of the dialog a little repetitive - but not without charm. There's not much physical comedy in this movie, and everything hangs on character interaction and conversation with a big nod to anyone with an awkward family dynamic. As I stated above, the real value of this film, for me, were the undertones of depression, dysfunction, and weirdness. The movie's cast played nicely off each other, and as a result, "Johnny Killed the Cat" was well worth my seventy minutes.
At the end of the day? It's black and white, it's indie, you can read into things however you want and still make a case for your reasoning, and it's all somehow very familiar to me. Familiar in the sense I can somewhat relate to a lot of what happens onscreen. My guess is that I won't be alone, and this film is for people like us. Johnny did kill the cat, and watching him squirm and shuffle around to find an excuse hit home enough for me to appreciate this film. Three out of five stars.