Chromeskull. Writer-director Robert Hall is hoping that name will stick in your head - and apparently it did since there's a sequel in production as I write this. Another modern day attempt to recapture a slasher franchise the likes we haven't really seen since Jason, Freddy, and Michael Myers sliced up the screen, Laid to Rest does some things right and some things wrong. On the one hand, the gore effects and kill scenes are, for the most part, awesome and well-done but the flick's real lack of cohesion and the fact Hall generally just sets up various locations for our cast to be menaced as they pinball around town just didn't really gel with me. By the time the 90 minute runtime had gone by, I was more indifferent than anything.
Everything starts off in a fashion I'm getting a little tired of, and I'm talking about credit montages. Here it's a blur of victims being killed and weapons being sharpened but once all that's over things do get a little more interesting as a girl (Bobbi Sue Luther) wakes up in a coffin with absolutely no memory of who she is or how she got there. After making her way through the funeral home she's trapped in, and seeing the mortician get sliced up by our chrome masked baddie, she escapes into the night all drugged up and confused.
She's picked up and taken in by the kind, older Tucker (Kevin Gage) and his wife who clean her up (including a nasty wound on the back of her head) and try and help her sort things out. However, our killer has other plans and they mostly involve tracking down his escaped prey while bloodily killing off anyone who gets in the way while his shoulder mounted video camera captures it all. Which brings us back to the aforementioned chase scenes as Tucker, the girl, and the loner nerd (Sean Whalen, People Under the Stairs) who they pick-up along the way try to stay alive.
Given the task of playing a character who goes from confused to empowered by the time the weak finish rolls around, Luther does an okay job of it. She's not great in the role and is generally overpowered by her co-stars but she doesn't suck either. Obviously she's not on Marilyn Burns from Texas Chain Saw Massacre level but I've seen worse put-upon heroines before. Speaking of her co-stars, I really enjoyed familiar character actor Gage as the protective, and surprisingly logical, Tucker while the odd looking Whalen offers up adequate comic relief.
I really wanted to dig Laid to Rest more than I did. Going into it I knew it had a fairly decent reputation around genre circles and, after the first few impressive deaths, I was ready for an entertainingly fun slasher flick. All the elements were in place as people were getting pinned to the side of houses with a knife and having the tops of their heads chopped off, there was a mildly intriguing premise, and our baddie had a somewhat memorable look to him but there just wasn't enough thrills to the chase.
Basically Hall has gathered together his cast, thrown in some random victims for Chromeskull to kill, and wrapped it all up in a surprisingly dull chase movie - and that's before I mention the weird vibe I got from the flick as it felt like a modern day hack 'n' slash mixed with a mid-90s one. There's enough grisly moments and top notch effects by Hall's Almost Human Inc. studio for fans of slashers to give this a look but the bloated mid-section and fact that Hall doesn't bother giving Chromeskull any real motivation made me weary of the whole thing. Perhaps they'll be able to give more heft to their villain in the follow-up and make it more than the competently made, but passable, flick they've delivered here. (Chris Hartley, 4/28/11)
Directed By: Robert Hall.
Written By: Robert Hall.
Starring: Bobbi Sue Luther, Kevin Gage, Sean Whalen, Johnathon Schaech.