Okay, let's face it: If you're thinking about watching a horror movie in the slasher subcategory, you're not searching for a think-piece on the dangers of unresolved Oedipal complexes. You're not looking for a movie to challenge your way of thinking. You watch these movies for lots of killing, bad acting, and the plot, well...is there ever really a plot?
It'd be easy to say that Laid to Rest is another dime-a-dozen slasher movie, another entry into a misogynist genre that's been overdone since the late 1980's...but that would ignore the vast efforts put into it by the director, his wife, the cast, and the crew.
The Director: Robert Hall, owner of the special effects company Almost Human, made this film for two reasons. He wanted to make his first horror movie, and his wife needed her first starring role.
The Lead: Bobbi Sue Luther, to me, is known for her role in Star Trek: Enterprise as a green-skinned Orion Slave Girl. She's been in countless men's magazines, and even became the face of St. Pauli Girl beer in 2007. She also co-produced this movie.
The movie starts off with a heavy metal riff, and we see an MTV-video style montage of young nubile women getting sliced up in various ways. We see events from the aspect of "The Girl", a young woman who wakes up in a coffin with no memory of who she is or how she got there. Over the course of this horrifying night she forms an alliance with two men, Tucker and Stephen, who do their best to protect her from our unrelenting antagonist, a killer known as Chrome Skull.
I was expecting a slaughter-fest, and I was not disappointed. Chrome Skull got to use a variety of weapons: a steel rod, a shotgun, tire sealant, and of course, his trademark brass knuckle knives. The most vicious kill in the film, by far, is the one against Lena Headey's character Cindy. I was COMPLETELY unprepared for her facial reaction...the knife twists in her temple, her mouth opens and her eyes dart about. As the knife comes out, her right eye is completely bloodshot. I'm used to special effects that cut away and take the cheap way out, but this put it right in my FACE. Bravo!
I got a case of the giggles whenever Chrome Skull came on screen - he looked like Timothy Olyphant from Hitman with a shoulder camera he borrowed from The Predator. That probably wasn't Robert Hall's intention, but it made Chrome Skull a memorable character for me, whether scary or not.
Some things irritated me during this movie, such as the editor's quick-cuts. I'd see a full segment of Chrome Skull killing someone, but if I blinked, I'd miss the 13 clips pasted together of him getting stabbed in the eye at the mortuary (yes, I counted). The dialogue from most of the characters was pretty bad, but then again, I wasn't expecting a David Mamet film.
The ending was a pleasant surprise, giving me some answers but begging more questions. Usually I keep my brain turned off during a slasher film but this one made me switch it on at the end. How diabolical of you, Robert Hall!
DVD Treatment: At the beginning of Laid to Rest, there are a few movie ads:
(1) Lightning Bug (Robert Hall's directorial debut)
(2) The Alphabet Killer (Directed by Rob Schmidt, who directed Wrong Turn)
(3) Crowley (Known as "Chemical Wedding" outside of the U.S.)
(4) Tokyo Zombie
How about them Extras? Well, there's a lot to be found here:
(1) Commentary track with Bobbi Sue Luther and her husband Robert Hall - Robert never tries to hide the fact that he's making a slasher film and doesn't try to build it up to be more than it is. The commentary focuses on him and his wife being able to make a movie with a core group of friends and a non-existent budget. I enjoyed hearing their stories about the use of "Smash! Plastic", the difficulties of a few interior window scenes, and the kindness of Cookie Moreland, among others. The bit about filming in houses with black mold was kind of creepy, though.
(2) The Making of Laid to Rest - We get a brief interview of each character in the movie, and several crew members. Everyone shares their serious and goofy sides while discussing the film. Thomas Dekker even got to compose some music!
(3) Torture Porn - the SFX of Laid to Rest - No, this isn't a segment about Eli Roth: the makeup effects supervisor is named Erik Porn. He showcases the creation of Chrome Skull, the bodies in the film, various head molds for special effects, and more.
(4) Deleted Scenes - I loved the intro with Nick Principe doing Roy Batty's speech from Blade Runner, but this could have gone in the bloopers section. There are only a couple of scenes here - nothing to write home about.
(5) Bloopers - A typical blooper reel, everyone looks like they're enjoying themselves and not getting frustrated.
(6) Trailer - The trailer that piqued my interest in this movie!
You might think independent horror movies are a waste of time, but remember: a filmmaker named Sam Raimi started out shooting low budget horror movies like The Evil Dead, and he's now making multi-million dollar movies about some teenager in Queens who got bit by a spider or something.
Laid to Rest gets 3 stars, but the efforts of everyone involved pushes it to 4.
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A young woman awakes in a coffin with no memory of who she is, and shortly after getting free from the box, finds herself desperate to escape a mortuary with a chrome skull-masked killer on her heels! She manages to get a ride with a kind man who wants only to help her, but everyone who attempts to do so only puts themselves in the deadly path of Chromeskull, the depraved murderer with a shoulder-mounted video camera to catch all the action!
I love horror films, but slasher flicks are not my preference. Still, I watch them and enjoy many of them. Sounds disturbing to say you enjoy a slasher film, but you know what I mean. Anyway, the majority are too much of the same ol' same ol', especially the current stuff. "Laid to Rest" is a special new entry in the subgenre because of the story told about the heroine's search for her identity and the Wizard of Oz-like friendships she forms with those she meets along the way. Add to that the fact that the kills in this movie are unique and nasty (which really does it for a lot of horror fans, though I'm no gorehound myself) and the film is so well-paced, and you've got something that is definitely a cut above the rest. Granted, it still had moments where I felt characters were making bad decisions, but, hey, some people make bad decisions. If you're into the Jason, Michael Myers, etc... types of films, this is worth checking out, and this killer is actually more grounded in reality, so far anyway. It's also fairly unpredictable I'd say. For one thing, anyone is fair game! "Laid to Rest" has a great cast with some recognizable faces and fantastic effects for a low-budget film, and the DVD comes through well too with commentary from lead actress Bobbi Sue Luther and writer/director/husband Robert Hall, the film's trailer, a great behind the scenes featurette, an effects featurette, a blooper reel and deleted scenes. Well worth the affordable price tag it usually carries!
on March 31, 2015
This is a very cool movie loaded with gore,story starts with a girl waking up with no memory and inside a coffin. She is in a mortuary and the guy who grabbed her gets yelled at by the head mortician,who gets knifed. The girl with no memory barely escapes to find an old guy and his wife and they take her in with great suspicion...until Chromeskull(the killer) shows up and gets the chance to prove he is real by offing the guy's wife right in front of him. Then the girl and the old guy are on the run and then come across a nerd who tries to help by calling the cops. The killer is right behind them as a game of cat & mouse ensues. The nerdy guy is grief stricken cuz his mother just died,so chromeskull takes her corpse and scares the nerdy guy alot. The people get to find out just how many people get to fall victim to Chromeskull and there are tons. The gore factor is high here there is so much violence here and it isn't cheesy looking CGI it is oldschool makeup and fake blood with dummies & the CGI is very little but it does not look forced. The girl watches a tape of how she was captured. She was a callgirl who enjoyed her narcotics til' she took a bat to the head. That is why she has amnesia,the fight ends in a grocery store/gas station. The girl kills chromeskull by putting a chemical in his glue adhesive that keeps the mask on his face,well it melts his face off and she beats him to a pulp. The movie ends with them driving away headed for Atlanta. There is another film that is a followup to this but it is more of a prequel. I suggest you check it out it is gory and it is downright cool.
on April 21, 2009
I have read reviews that praise Laid to Rest as one of the best movies of its kind, while I have also read those that condemn it as one of the worst. Ultimately, with this movie most especially, it's all about what exactly one expects from a slasher film. If it's an information-rich plot that explains who the killer is, why he's killing and/or specifically why he kills who he kills, you will be sorely disappointed. Otherwise, I think you will be most highly pleased, as I was.
Laid to Rest, quite honestly, has some of the most brutal and graphic kill scenes I've ever seen in a slasher film. What's more is that these kill scenes are given more on-screen time for the viewer than those in most any other I've seen. The camera never cuts away too soon, and, for better worse, little is left to the imagination. For example, when a certain victim gets a knife through the head, the viewer sees a most uncommon amount of detail. When the knife is finally pulled out of the impaled head, the victim appears to be truly real, with bloodying eyes twitching, and skin on the head pulling and stretching, as the knife is removed. To be honest, I'm not even sure how they did it. Yes, one can quickly tell that director Robert Hall loves the genre with a passion, since he goes all out to satisfy his fellow fans. Such exceptional gratuitous detail is dished out more than once in Laid to Rest, as each victim is eliminated by Chrome Skull--the stylishly-masked psycho slasher. In other scenes a victim's head is filled with air, through his ear, via a tire flat-fixer, a woman's head is sawed off, and a man's face is literally chopped off of his head. Don't worry. I won't spoil everything. I'll leave the excessive details for you to witness yourself.
Speaking of Chrome Skull, here is a killer that is as original, vicious, brutal, and scary as he is lacking in personality and/or background. This villain literally comes from nowhere and kills everyone he kills for no particular reason that is ever explained. Chrome Skull has no context. There is not even a hint of who he is and why he does what he does. From the film's very beginning, a woman wakes up in a casket, escapes, and quickly finds that she is being pursued by someone trying to kill her. From that point, everyone with which the woman comes in contact is either killed or meant to be killed by the villain. The viewer never knows why anything is happening, and never has as much as a single clue to make an inference.
Yes, this lack of context is one of the main criticisms about which I've read from many others. However, in all truth, exactly how much of a difference does context ever make in such movies anyway? So what! If anything, we get the clichéd, dicey background about some vengeful social misfit who vents his rage on those who arguably deserve it and/or society in general. Yes, is it ever that much different, and how much of a difference does it ever really make? Is that really why we watch such movies anyway? Of course not! In reality, we mostly watch slasher films for the very things that Laid to Rest concisely and copiously delivers--blood, guts, gratuitous gore, and killings galore! No pedigreed gorehound can walk away from this one without at least being satisfied on that level. If you want more, maybe you're looking for something different anyway. Maybe wanting more and watching Laid to Rest is like watching a movie you know you won't like, just wanting to gripe about something. Well, from this point forward, let it be known that you have been warned about what exactly this movie is. From this point forward, if you watch it anyway, spending your time and money on it anyway, then maybe it's really you who should be criticized.
Laid to Rest is much like a bad dream, if that's not exactly what it is meant to be. The setting is almost surreal at times, the inhabitants don't always act as they should, and reality is not always what it should be. No, the movie doesn't make total sense, it doesn't answer enough of our questions, the logic is not always what we want, and even clues are nonexistent. However again, like a bad dream, it is sufficient to accomplish the goal it pursues. It delivers, very concisely and thoroughly, one very effective nightmare of a movie.
on July 30, 2015
Their heart's in the right place, and I know plenty of horror fans who love this, but I just couldn't get on board. It veers wildly from silly to SUPER SERIOUS, relies heavily on the utter idiocy of every single character, and has long stretches of pointlessness between the (admittedly boss) kill scenes.
If you're in it for the serious gore, go on ahead, but you might find yourself watching half the movie on fast-forward.
What Laid to Rest lacks in terms of coherent story, it more than makes up for with inventive kills and ingenious practical gore effects. Bobbi Sue Luther stars as an amnesiac girl who wakes up in a coffin, only to find herself hunted down by a chrome-skull-faced killer with a video camera strapped to his shoulder. Soon enough, she finds herself taken in by a kindly couple (Kevin Gage, Lena Headey) and naturally, the killer isn't far behind. There are cameos and small roles featuring genre stalwarts like Richard Lynch, Johnathon Schaech, and Headey's Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles co-star Thomas Dekker, but what really makes Laid to Rest worthwhile is its no-holds barred attitude and fantastic gore effects that combine to make for some inventive and gross kills. Anchor Bay's DVD features are also worthwhile, including an interesting commentary from writer/director Robert Hall and Bobbi Sue Luther, who also co-produced the film; and a blooper reel that is actually funny. All in all, for die-hard slasher fans that are sick of all the crummy PG-13 teen horror flicks and sadistic but not scary torture flicks, Laid to Rest should definitely be right up your alley.
on December 6, 2011
I ordered this movie thanks to boredom: I had already purchased and/or rented every other scary movie I could find, so (despite the tacky pirate-esque cover) I decided to order this one. Needless to say, I wasn't expecting much at all, especially after seeing the stills of the man wearing his shiny chrome mask. Well, I can honestly say, I was shocked...this movie was actually quite good! The acting was pretty stellar seeing as to how the only people I had seen before was the guy from People Under The Stairs and the other guy that used to be married to Christina Applegate from the Prom Night remake (now THAT movie was horrible!). The death scenes were some of the best I've ever witnessed! In one scene outside of the older man's house, his wife is stabbed with a knife in the head...and you can see her eyeball shaking when he pulls the knife back out! Just amazingly gross! There was also just a small hint of humor in this movie that I really appreciated. I'm not a big comedy girl, nor do I like the whole scary-movie-meets-black-humor thing, but this was just subtle enough to be quite clever and enjoyable. No, they don't really explain much about Chrome Skull...but this is one movie where you really don't mind the open mystery at the end. The sequel, however, tries to dive into the story of Chrome Skull a bit more...and, WARNING!: the whole movie blows in a very generic, been-there done-that kinda way. Not scary or even a quarter as cool as this one. So, to sum it all up: love this one, hate the sequel.
on October 18, 2012
I like the bad dream aspect of the setting, shot at night in the middle of nowhere. I love the inauspicious entrance of the lead character (falling out of a coffin). And you can't go wrong with a masked killer, especially when the mask is shiny and shaped like a skull. The pace is unrelenting. The deaths are shocking and plentiful. They even managed to inject a little humor (the guy with no phone but he has got a computer). I only have one criticism and that concerns the disorienting opening sequence, a montage for the credits that neither helped create the mood for this film, nor did it add any insight for what was to follow. It was just a lot of noise and chopped up images. I consider it a wasted opportunity that could have paved the way for what came after it. Other than that, this is just the type of slasher flick blueprint I want other filmmakers to take note of and follow. Seriously, we are getting low on films in this genre. I definitely have room for more.
on May 31, 2015
Wow, I am not usually a big slasher fan, but when it is this well made, I have to give it the respect it deserves. Everything about it was just top notch and extremely high quality, and the gore....I mean, I have seen some gory movies in my day, but damn, this was just messed up. People get their faces sliced off, body parts completely ripped off, and everything is shown. The camera is not shy when it comes to showing you the meat and potatoes of what gave the slasher genre a cult following. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this movie, and will look forward to more films from this team.
on March 19, 2015
Gosh I love this film. Lots of fresh ideas, a wonderful band of three protagonists that I was truly rooting for, and a killer who is scary through and through, right down to his lumbering walk. This should be a requirement for anybody who enjoys slasher movies. Very satisfying climax. If you like this movie I would suggest checking out the sequel, Laid to Rest 2: Chromeskull, which is maybe not quite as good, but definitely takes the idea in a strong and novel direction.