Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #45
Number of Views: Two
Release Date: September 20, 2011
Country of Origin: United States
Running Time: 93 minutes
Director: Robert Hall
Producers: Kevin Bocarde, Krishna Devine, Robert Hall, Stephen Niver, Andrew Shepherd, Chang Tseng
Screenplay: Kevin Bocarde & Robert Hall
Special Effects: Erik Porn
Cinematography: Amanda Treyz
Score: Leon Bradford, Lance Warlock
Editing: Robert Hall, Thomas A. Krueger
Studio: Dry County Films
Distributor: Image Entertainment
Stars: Brian Austin Green, Thomas Dekker, Mimi Michaels, Owain Yeoman, Danielle Harris, Gail O’Grady, Jonathon Schaech, Christopher Allen Nelson, Angelina Armani, Brett Wagner, Allison Kyler, Aimee-Lynn Chadwick, Chris Carnel, Camden Troy and Nick Principe as Chromeskull
Suggested Audio Candy:
Skrillex Featuring Sirah Bangarang
It has become increasingly rare nowadays for a slasher movie to really stand out from the crowd. The once-crowded sub-genre has never been known for its individuality, and any innovation is decidedly thin on the ground by this point, so creating a psycho killer iconic enough to rival the likes of Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees is looking less and less probable. Many still try and, more often than not, fall at the very first hurdle. However, occasionally the stars align and a fresh star is born.
Back in 2009, a shiny new assassin stepped confidently into the fray. Aptly named Chromeskull, and with no prizes provided for sussing out why, this mean-spirited rogue staked a pretty hefty claim with a maiden outing which easily exceeded any slim expectations. Robert Hall’s Laid to Rest delighted horror buffs worldwide with its inventive dispatches and pressure cooker tension. It didn’t concern itself with convoluted plot and, instead, presented us a small band of likeable protagonists, highlighting their attempts to flee the business end of Chromeskull’s blade. Whilst not an out-and-out classic, it showed considerable promise.
Given its surprise success, it was inevitable that there would be a sequel at some point. Sniffing a potential franchise in the making, Hall soon decided to give fans another bloody helping of his enigmatic muted murderer. Known primarily for his exceptional FX work and regarding himself as a graduate of the Roger Corman school of film after working on a number of projects for his Concorde-New Horizons production company, the Michigan-born entrepreneur has built a strong reputation for himself and Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2 places him back in the directorial hot-seat once again.
The first thing Hall does here is to pickup the reins where he last set them down as our story picks up directly where its predecessor left off. We join Tommy (Thomas Dekker) and Princess (now played by Allison Kyler) as they flee the crime scene and head off to a nearby motel to regroup. Regrettably for our plucky survivors, it turns out that this particular psycho doesn’t work alone as a group of his handlers arrive on the scene soon after to clear up the almighty mess. Their task is to rush Chromeskull to a private hospital for emergency reconstructive surgery, while their no-nonsense chief Preston (Brian Austin Green) stays behind to tie up any loose ends.
Hall wastes precious little time supplying his audience with a little more of his sumptuous trademark splatter to get us salivating over the potential humdinger we are about to share our twilight with. Alas, this enthusiasm begins to dissipate over the course of the following few scenes as it becomes increasingly clear that he may have bitten off more than he can chew. While his intention of expanding on his universe is admirable, any budgetary limitations suddenly become far more visible. Once fresh target Jess (Mimi Michaels) has been snatched, it’s off to the police station for the inevitable paperwork. Think of a low-rent CSI and you won’t be too far away and the rent-a-cop detective angle proves an unnecessary distraction.
Fortunately, at reasonably regular intervals, we are treated to a kill and a kill as committed by Chromeskull is truly something glorious to behold. You see, his knife can cut through sheet metal as if it were sugar paper. What’s more it has had an upgrade, multiple actually, as it now combines a number of said blades joined by a mechanism which spring loads it; turning it into a lethal throwing weapon à la Krull. Naturally this new toy needs to be tested, culminating in one of the most satisfyingly sickening dispatches I have ever had the good fortune of witnessing. Of course, we cannot allow ourselves to be seduced by one moment of admittedly sublime excellence can we? Thankfully, there are a couple of other factors which merit a mention.
First up we have Chromeskull himself. Played by 6″7 man mountain Nick Principe (American Muscle, Tales of Halloween), he positively owns our asses and there are few killers so imposing and utterly mean-spirited as he. If Principe already showed us this previously, then he bolsters his claim no end here and proves there is so much more behind that shiny mask than just dead cells and embalming fluid. If Chromeskull is to continue then this guy positively has to be the one donning the headgear. It just fits him so darned well.
We are also gifted a sizeable cameo from scream queen Danielle Harris and any movie where she graces us with her presence is a good thing. However, the real surprise package comes in the form of her sparring partner. Pickings have been decidedly slim for Brian Austin Green in the post-Beverly Hills 90210 years, but his turn as embittered assistant Preston is both concentrated and mesmerizing. His presence provides an interesting dynamic which prevents Chromeskull: Laid To Rest 2 from escalating into a mindless free-for-all. Unfortunately, many of the other characters prove inconsequential and are present only to provide fodder.
The aforementioned plot isn’t worth concerning ourselves with as Hall’s best efforts to elevate Chromeskull onto a higher plateau largely fall short and there are enough holes in the plot to sink an ocean liner. However, the kills really are something special and it is ultimately here that his film warrants our attention. Whether the Laid To Rest series continues to flourish is anyone’s guess at this point although, despite side-stepping somewhat here, the illustrious alloy-masked killer still appears both alive and in good health. If I were to make a suggestion then, next time, perhaps next time it would be advisable to keep things simple.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 7/10
Grue Factor: 5/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: Should you have a penchant for messy splatter, then you owe it to yourself to watch this movie or you’re selling yourselves short. Stomachs are carved wide open from stomach to appetite, cheeks stabbed, mouths widened, heads cut off, faces submerged in septic solution then smashed, and Almost Human Inc. find a way of merging practical effects with in-post CGI without compromising the impact. The stairwell execution, in particular, effortlessly stands out as one of my all-time favorites and takes butchery to a whole new level, providing Chromeskull’s new spinner blade with one helluva run-out in the process. There’s even a little harmless T&A for good measure, courtesy of the obligatory shower scene.
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Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2013 (Revised Edition 2015)