Tag Archives: slasher

Movie Review: Laid to Rest

Article first published as Movie Review: Laid to Rest on Blogcritics.

A young woman (Bobbie Sue Luther) wakes up inside of a coffin with no recollection of who she is or how she got there and she is, perhaps understandably, a little freaked out about the whole thing. After breaking free, she ends up on the run from the lunatic who put her there. It’s a screamy, amnesiac against a dangerous madman wearing a chrome skull mask and it’s no holds barred.

There are a few things to recommend Laid to Rest, although it is ultimately a subpar horror flick. For every obnoxious, cardboard cutout character, there’s someone who I actually cared about. Tucker (Kevin Gage) felt like a human being and I was actually concerned about his well being. Steven (Sean Whalen) was a quirky nerd whose bizarre idiosyncrasies weren’t overwhelming or obnoxious. I ended up liking them a fair amount, making it nerve-wracking when they were put in danger.

Of course, to balance this out, the script called for them to do mind numbingly dumb things that made me want to slap the stupid out of the movie. Tucker spends a lot of time telling everyone they need to stick together and then wanders off on a whim to split up the group. There was also the character who pointed a gun at the killer and then allowed the killer to walk up to him and shoot him with his own gun. Every brain-bendingly stupid action felt like the director was just padding out the film, adding precious minutes to the run time.

Speaking of the killer, he was strangely lackluster for a guy wearing a metal skull mask. Beyond the fact that he liked his camcorder and was on the sadistic side, there’s not much going for him. He had no real hook or personality. He was just the Killer of the Week, another loony in a mask to cover the camera in blood ‘n’ guts. And lord, were there blood ‘n’ guts.

This was probably one of the more gruesome movies I’ve seen in a while, with scenes that genuinely shocked me with how brutal they were. Generally speaking, I don’t need to see people putting their guts back where they belong. Less show, more tell when it comes to eviscerations. If you’re a fan of goo, then you’re in the right place. There’s a lot to see and it’s extremely well done, with faces, heads, and limbs a’flying every which-a-way.

Even more off-putting than the gore, was the first ten minutes, where we’re treated to a schizophrenic’s view of reality. The amount of edits and jump cuts is jarring and there are spaces of time where I was unable to piece together what happened. Someone gets stabbed in the eye, but god only knows how that happened.

For all that, Laid to Rest was not as bad as I was expecting. Decent acting, engaging characters and a ruthless, viscious killer hunting those characters kept me engaged for the duration, but I won’t be thinking about it after I submit this review.

Dylan Charles

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Slashed

Perhaps the most tasteless and least artistically driven of all horror films are slasher films (ignoring the new torture genre, because I refuse to acknowledge it). The very premise (killer kills people) is not the headiest point to start from, but there have been worthwhile whacks at the genre.

Psycho is a proto-slasher movie, the one who others follow, but only in rough forms. Slasher movies will never get better than this. Psycho isn’t just a good horror film, it’s a good movie, plain and simple. Well directed, well acted, well written; it’s everything most horror movies are not.

Black Christmas and Halloween are the next two movies worth watching and key to the evolution of the genre. Black Christmas is the quirkier of the two, featuring a killer who’s rarely seen on camera. His personality is revealed through a series of disturbing and unnerving phone calls. While Black Christmas came first, but Halloween was more popular and more of an impact in numerous ways: the preternaturally indestructible killer, the mask, the type of victim (nubile youth who are spent after hours of sex) and the heroine. It’s almost always a woman who dispatches the killer.

After Halloween came Friday the 13th, followed closely by A Nightmare on Elm Street. While Friday the 13th did everything it could to mimic its predecessors, A Nightmare On Elm Street broke the mold in a few ways. Freddy Krueger actually spoke, for starters, though his talking would become more annoying in later movies. His method of dispatching was also unique, delving into the dreams of his victims.

But, after twenty years, Michael Meyers, Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees all began to wear out their welcome with increasingly bad sequels that were less scary and more about over-the-top kills and unintentional humor. By the mid-nineties, Krueger and Voorhees took a vacation from the screen, only to return ten years later worse than ever.  Jason goes into space for god’s sake.

The last truly great slasher film, one that stands alongside Halloween and Black Christmas in quality, is Scream. Scream is a satirical stab at the genre, featuring often blatant references to past movies and the characters all but turn and wink at the camera. It’s a black comedic look at what the slasher film had become. The joke eventually turned sour as Scream was itself followed by two lackluster sequels, but that might have been Wes Craven’s attempt at metahumor.

With the recent Hollywood trend toward rebooting, all the old favorites had a chance to shine again and all failed. Rather than trying to tell new stories with new characters, they took the same old hack ‘n’ slash and just tried to make it more brutal, more violent. Violence alone isn’t what’s scary, especially if you don’t care about the characters. Blood and guts doesn’t scare. And old and familiar definitely doesn’t scare.

For the slasher film to truly be relevant again, Krueger needs to hang up his hat and Jason needs to put down the machete. Audiences need something new. And by new, I don’t mean two hours of tourists being tortured by psychos in the middle of Eastern Europe.

Dylan Charles

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