Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #109
Number of Views: Three
Release Date: March 18, 2009 (Dallas, Texas) May 19, 2009 (UK)
Country of Origin: United States
Running Time: 90 minutes
Director: Robert Green Hall
Producers: Chang Tseng, Bobbi Sue Luther
Screenplay: Robert Green Hall
Make-up Effects: Erik Porn (Almost Human Inc), Crystal Soveroski, Scott Simpson, Christian Quarantillo, Mark James Ross, Toby Sells
Visual Effects: Mark Varisco (Asylum VFX), Bethany Pederson (Almost Human Digital)
Score: Deadbox, Blackcowboy, Suicidal Tendencies
Cinematography: Scott Winig
Editing: Andrew Bentler
Studio: Dry County Films
Distributor: Anchor Bay Entertainment (US), Starz Home Entertainment (UK DVD)
Stars: Bobbi Sue Luther, Kevin Gage, Lena Headey, Sean Whalen, Richard Lynch, Johnathon Schaech, Thomas Dekker, Jana Kramer, Lucas Till, Anthony Fitzgerald, Seri DeYoung, Mark Bentley and Nick Principe as Chromeskull
Suggested Audio Candy:
Suicidal Tendencies Who’s Afraid?
Cover art plays an integral part of the persuasion process for any aspiring slasher. It can convince you that the film before you is worth its salt, with no need for review scores or uneven aggregates. Laid to Rest is one such example of this in practice. This particular movie had slid past Keeper without so much as a whisper of its impending arrival. No protracted build-up or TV promotional campaign; it was as if a stork had dropped a bundle of sheathed copies of said film into the delivery bay of the store which now housed it proudly.
One glance was all it took; its prominent chrome cranium and crisscrossed serrated blades instantly sparking my interest. Within seconds a sealed copy was within my clutches as I strode towards the counter, eyes swollen like a pair of well-flicked testicles and already flimsy wallet contents about to be decimated. I have always trusted my gut; ordinarily I can fathom whether a film will tickle my pickle within seconds and this flamboyant design had me hook, line and sinker the moment my eyes met the cold black piss-caverns of the curious character that adorned its sleeve. I wasted no time in forming my official adjudication and, that same twilight, I slid it into my player with a glimmer in my eye and settled in for the duration.
It feels particularly sweet when your decision is then vindicated. In truth it could have been much ado about nothing in particular. I’d done my primary scan back in our initial meeting place and had seen no indication of the name Uwe Lommel printed anywhere on the case, so the coast appeared clear. My expectations were cast realistically and I’m pleased to report they were soon to be surpassed. From the instance Robert Hall’s slasher for the next cohort booted up in the drive, I felt an overriding sense of glee. Within five minutes, a taut opening implemented with no shortage of finesse, I was primed to invest my evening to the safe keeping of Chromeskull.
Laid To Rest leaves its imprint without delay. Our bemused belle awakens in a casket less memory, one which she exits to discover that she has been incarcerated in some unknown funeral home showroom run by Mr Jones (a brief turn by veteran Richard Lynch). No shallow graves, dense forestry or teasing clues as to her whereabouts, just a collection of ominous antechambers. Managing to evacuate said fortifications, not without alerting the shiny-headed slaughterer to her presence and imminent getaway, our unwilling heroine drags her weary bones to the nearest seemingly safe haven where she hooks up with kindly Tucker (Kevin Gage) and his initially wary wife Cindy (Lena Headey).
It doesn’t take long for Chromeskull to locate his quarry, armed with a cam on his shoulder and a notched blade sharp enough to slice through tissue as if it was rice paper; he strides vigorously forward to make his formal introduction. 6″7 man mountain Nick Principe is more than suited to the alloy mask and gives a stellar account of himself throughout. What transpires over the next 75 minutes give-or-take is a well-paced cat-and-mouse hell ride which doesn’t concern itself with redundant back story, just team building sessions for our hunted damsel and any new acquaintances she makes en route; along with some sickeningly primitive dispatches.
Hall wisely knows where to situate his eggs, a single basket houses them and it is one over-spilling with deep red. He sets his stall out early on with a pair of sadistic slayings, our killer putting his sharp edge to good use in QVC-style displays of its elite slicing competency. Chromeskull crafts cross-sections with ease, separating flesh and bone as though carving a thanksgiving partridge. In addition it appears Hall is a big fan of Phantasm as there is a similar mood to that which Don Coscarelli created way back in 1979. This of course is more than welcome.
Our petite posse of protagonists lurch from one dicey endeavor to the next, seldom more than a click away from our shiny-headed sadist. Along the way they stop to pick up Steven (character actor Sean Whalen or Roach from Wes Craven’s The People Under The Stairs). Presumably having previously observed him there scurrying around crawlspaces akin to a rodent on meth, they allow him into their inner circle. It appears that they are building their own select A-Team and in Steven they have unearthed their Murdoch.
One thing which resonates swiftly with Hall’s bid for an iconic slasher to rival his evident inspirations is that this is a suitably affable gaggle of geese, less filler-more killer is Hall’s unambiguous intent and with this approach; his characters command empathy and subsequently extended levels of anxiety once Chromeskull makes his next emergence. It’s not quantum physics and neither does it claim to be, just good old-fashioned peril pie, the likes of which mama used to bake. And it slides down a treat.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves; Laid to Rest is not without its blemishes. The protagonists, no matter how likeable they may be, wander around like deluded sheep as they attempt to piece together the puzzle throughout a slightly sagging second act. The nefarious Chromeskull doesn’t need GPS to deduct the whereabouts of the fumbling troop as they make a number of ill-advised decisions that even Clouseau would sneer at. But, when all is said and done, we are left with an insanely gory and reasonably unsettling homage to the eighties slasher era, which gives us the most illustrious rogue the genre has witnessed in many a year.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 7/10
Grue Factor: 5/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers: Hall and Almost Human associate Erik Porn do a grand job with the FX; already well esteemed for their latex and grue, they excel with some real showstoppers. The serrated weapon is used to remarkable effect, hacking unevenly through countless gristle and there is also a unique assassination using tire sealant in the earlobe, which I’m reasonably confident, is something of a first.
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
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Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2013 (Revised Edition 2015)