Dallas IFF 2012 Review: Kid-Thing


Remember the Herdmans from The Best Christmas Pageant Ever? Well this kid could be one of them.

In 2008, Goliath won the audience award at the Dallas International Film Festival. This year the writer/director/producer team behind that film have brought their latest to the festival, Kid-Thing.

The film is all about Annie, an East Texas girl around the age of 10. She lives on a farm with two men and it’s unclear if either of them are her father; she calls one of them Marvin. The two men are too busy tending to the farm, getting drunk, and playing scratch-off lottery tickets to pay any attention to Annie, so she spends her days running amok in the surrounding piney woods.

Annie’s antics grow increasingly angry and dangerous as we follow her around. She begins by throwing rocks in a pond, ripping apart a dead tree and squashing a maggot with her bare hands, stealing biscuits from a convenience store and throwing them at cars on the highway, and shooting paintball pellets at a dead cow.

One day while in the woods, she hears a woman crying for help and runs in the opposite direction. She returns the next day and discovers there is a woman who has fallen down into a well, and she begs Annie to get help. Annie does the first nice thing we see: she makes several peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, steals some Capri-Sun, and drops the food down the well along with a roll of toilet paper for the woman, Esther. She also drops down a walkie-talkie so they can communicate.

After this, we think Annie might be showing some compassion, but no. Annie continues her destructive behavior and doesn’t tell anyone about Esther and her plight. Annie is convinced that Esther is the devil and somehow deserves to be stuck down that well, but Esther says Annie is the devil for not helping her and for being so cruel. The latter accusation is definitely more truthful.

No good comes from anything that happens in Kid-Thing but sadly, that is what happens sometimes in real life. The film is well shot, well acted, and has minimal dialogue. Kudos to the filmmakers David and Nathan Zellner for making a movie so technically well, but is so difficult to watch, and about a child no less; who can usually be some of the most compassionate people.

Director: David Zellner
Notable Cast: Sydney Aguirre, Nathan Zellner
Writer(s): David Zellner