Movie Review: 1313: Billy the Kid (2012)

October 4, 2012

1313 Week is a week dedicated to reviewing David DeCoteau’s homoerotic franchise. Partly an experiment to see if I can survive an entire week of the films, I hope you enjoy this week.

Sepia tone: Oft used image filter that people think improves photos, for whatever reason, as in reality it usually ruins the photos (Examples). The filter has never been applied to a movie for the entire duration — until now. Enter 1313: Billy the Kid.

Written by Moses Rutegar and directed by David DeCoteau, Billy the Kid is the head-scratcher of the 1313 franchise. For one there are only around five scenes with topless men (so, kudos). Second, it’s a Western-Horror, which is an interesting change of course from the others. And third the entire film is put through a Sepia filter, which is an utter disaster of international proportions (more on this later).

As the story goes, Billy the Kid (Brandon Thornton) is wounded and on the run from the law after escaping prison. Eventually Billy stumbles into a near-ghost town called Hell’s Heart, where Athena Lottie (Chelsea Rae Bernier) mends him to health. Once four days pass and Billy is healthy, strong, and badass as ever, Deputy Whitecastle (Jason Zahodnik) becomes suspicious of Billy, shenanigans happen, and Hell’s Heart lives up to its name.

Getting it out of the way: The Sepia filter being applied for the entire 75 minute duration is the single worst editing decision that I’ve ever seen. The reason I’m guessing that the filmmakers applied the Sepia filter is because it’s a cheap way to make an image look antiquated. Obviously if you’re making a Western, you might want an antiquated feel, but it has to be genuine. It can’t be something that a pre-teen with an iPod touch and iMovie can do.

The acting is horrible, and honestly a lot of that has to do with the casting. Billy the Kid is the sixth movie from the 1313 franchise that I’ve seen, and as DeCoteau recycles his cast I’ve seen a lot of these actors. The thing that I can say with confidence is that of DeCoteau’s regulars, the cast might have been correctly selected but their roles were not. If the actors were given roles that suited them, this honestly might be a vaguely entertaining movie.

(That said, the fact that these actors aren’t good to begin with doesn’t help.)

Interestingly enough, there isn’t verbal dialogue until roughly ten minutes into the movie; coincidentally those were my ten favorite minutes! It’s just the score which isn’t bad, and Billy the Kid wandering around in a Sepia toned desert. If the entire dialogue was stripped and Billy the Kid was just the characters going through the motions to music, it’d be 10x better. The dialogue problem might have to do with the actors speaking the dialogue, but it’s really kind of bad.

I hate talking about clothes, but I get the sense that DeCoteau wanted his actors to be topless as in the rest of the 1313 franchise. I think that he understands that the desert in Western-times isn’t a mansion in Southern California, but I say what I am because he has his actors here wear vests with no clothing underneath. It’s a compromise, we don’t see nipples, but we do get a bit of the chest, six pack, and muscular arms. That’s a compromise I can accept.

So should you watch this movie? No you should not. If for any reason, just to protest the use of the Sepia filter. But otherwise it has problems up and down with the acting/casting and dialogue, and even with the vest compromise the actors do go topless occasionally. As of this writing 1313: Billy the Kid is on Netflix USA, but again you’ll want to skip it. Unless you’re a masochist, at which point I can’t help you.

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