Indie Snapshot: K-11

by Ethan Alter March 15, 2013 11:27 am
Indie Snapshot: <i>K-11</i>

Usually the way nepotism works is that the offspring of some famous celeb is able to use his or her prestigious family name to help score the opportunity to write, director or act in their own feature (witness the careers of Scott Caan, Jaden Smith, Sofia and Roman Coppola, etc. etc.). K-11 can be viewed as a case of nepotism in reverse, as it marks the feature filmmaking debut of Jules Stewart, mother of Kristen "Bella" Stewart. A longtime script supervisor, Mama Stewart wrote and directed this micro-budgeted prison drama, which stars Goran Visnjic as a hotshot record producer who ends up in the slammer following a serious bender. But this isn't your ordinary garden variety prison -- no sir, it's a loony bin straight out of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, one that's overseen by a cruel prison guard (D.B. Sweeney) and packed with kooky characters played by an odd assortment of semi-famous actors, from Kate del Castillo and Portia Doubleday to Tommy "Tiny" Lister and Jason Mewes.

The presence of Mewes might suggest that K-11 is some kind of dark comedy, but no -- it's a deadly earnest portrayal of a nightmarish prison that suggests Stewart was a big fan of HBO's Oz back in the day, perhaps even going as far as to write fan fiction that she subsequently recycled into this script. Like that series, the title K-11 refers to the specific lock-up where Visnjic's new fish, Ray, is being held, a special unit populated primarily by gay and transgender prisoners, as well as your random child molester. K-11's chief industry is drug smuggling, an operation overseen by Sweeney's closeted guard in collusion with transsexual ward boss, Mousey (del Castillo). Mewes plays Mousey's main bitch Ben, while Lister portrays the pedophile who forces himself upon the youngest, sweetest inmate, Butterfly (Portia Doubleday). Fun fact: that was the role Kristen Stewart was originally going to play before she conveniently got super-busy with Twilight and Snow White and the Huntsman, which is something we should all probably be grateful for since the idea of watching a mother direct her daughter through a prison rape scene sounds about as appealing as a Twilight prequel. (The younger Stewart does cameo elsewhere in the film, but I won't give the scene away and rob you of your chance to play "Where's Bella?")

I'm not quite sure why Stewart Sr. felt compelled to make this movie, but to her credit I guess, she commits to the story she's telling, as lurid, unpleasant and ultimately pointless as it may be. Her guerilla-style camerawork is more confident than her direction of the actors, who either underplay everything (Visnjic and Mewes, who should probably prepare to be endlessly mocked by his cohort Kevin Smith for accepting this role) or go completely over the top into Looney Toon-land (looking at you, Sweeney). The only performer who strikes the right balance is del Castillo, whose character would have fit in quite nicely on Oz. It's dubious whether Stewart will be able to book another directing gig based purely on K-11, but in the meantime maybe her daughter can hook her up with a gig helming the making-of featurettes for the upcoming Snow White sequel.

Get showtimes and tickets for this movie from Fandango.

In addition to a limited theatrical release, K-11 is also available On Demand.

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