I was first asked if I wanted a screener for the film K-11 — debut of Jules Stewart (yes, Kristen’s mom) — back in January during Sundance. Buried beneath a barrage of Festival emails, I had completely forgotten about it.
Then when the Sundance dust finally settled I was asked again and thought, “Sure, why not?” After reading that The Hollywood Reporter had called it “a deranged John Waters remake of The Shawshank Redemption,” I have to admit it made me even more interested. While it comes close to that moniker, it never really goes as overboard as Mr. Waters surely would have taken the idea — even if it still plays out like a homophobe’s worst nightmare.
Record producer Raymond Saxx Jr. (Goran Visnjic) has just been booked for homicide, but is so drunk and doped up that he can barely sit up straight. Sgt. Johnson (D.B. Sweeney) talks the clerk into letting him take Saxx off his hands and it’s off to the titular K-11 lock up. K-11 is a section of the L.A. County Jail reserved for homosexuals.
Saxx finally comes around in a cell next to Butterfly (Portia Doubleday) who may not be able to help him find a fix, but knows how to make use of toilet paper to warm him up. After getting thrown in with the rest of the inmates, Saxx learns that everyone is ruled by the one and only Mousey (Kate del Castillo). Her number one man is Ben (Jason Mewes), and along with Sgt. Johnson they run the roost with a little drug trafficking to boot. Now Saxx has to wait out to hear from his wife’s lawyer C.R. (P.J. Byrne) to strike a deal clearing his name while wading through the group of homosexuals, transgenders, and child molesters until he can get out.
Director Stewart makes the most of her cast, especially Castillo as Mousey. She’s a force to be reckoned with. While Kevin Smith may have been the only person before who could make Mewes hilarious in his role as Jay against his Silent Bob, Stewart pulls an actual performance out of him. Maybe it’s his limited screentime, but here he works better than he has in anything in a long time. Sweeney seems to relish playing the bad guy while Visnjic makes Saxx a believable victim in the wrongfully accused role. Stewart and co-writer Jared Kurt have some fun with their script; never letting things get too over the top or overdramatic – but not without some fun campiness thrown in – and the comeuppances are well deserved. An inmate fashion show manages to give Zoolander’s “Derelicte” line a run for its money. While K-11 may not be a film for everyone, those looking for an unusually entertaining art-house film have something new to seek out.
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