It’s hard to imagine who the target audience might be for a film that mashes up quirky comedic character study, adorable animals, and art-punk avant-garde experimentalism. But, if you’re out there, then meet your new favorite movie, She’s Allergic to Cats.
It’s a trip.
Described as a semi-autobiographical narrative by writer/director Michael Reich, the film strikes an off-beat but somehow remarkably consistent tone, even as it delights in jamming together jarringly different aesthetics and sensibilities. Moments of charming sweetness and sincerity, the likes of which would be the envy of most Hollywood rom-coms, unexpectedly give way to disturbing Lynch-ian strangeness. Beautifully lit shots are juxtaposed with grainy, shaky, shot-on-video-looking scenes. Gentle humor is punctuated by close-ups of dog poop and flaccid penises.
“…earns a living as an assistant dog groomer and spends his free time making experimental films...”
The film runs less than 75 minutes, yet there’s more here to unpack – artistically, comedically, story-wise, and in sheer WTF-ery – than in most movies several times its length. An affinity for the more outre side of independent filmmaking is, obviously, a requirement for one’s enjoyment of all this.
But, credit She’s Allergic to Cats for featuring one element that most in-your-face, defiantly “outsider” films like this lack: a likable and relatable protagonist. That’s Los Angeles resident Mike (Mike Pinkney, also the film’s VFX supervisor), who earns a living as an assistant dog groomer and spends his free time making experimental films on VHS. At the former, he basically sucks, much to the disappointment of his boss (Luis Fernandez-Gil), who sees a kind of transcendent, Zen-like mysticism in the practice of beautifying pets. He’s much better suited to the moviemaking stuff, but he laments the fact that his very personal, very eccentric video collage work isn’t likely to be seen by anyone other than himself.
"…he's got a binder full of storyboards for an all-feline remake of Brian DePalma's Carrie..."