I am just going to say it… In the long run it will mean so much to fans of the genre that Mike Mendez is one of the modern day masters of MIDNIGHT CINEMA! For many out there who are deranged connoisseurs of midnight cult cinema, it is not easy to get that cinematic formula right as many filmmakers, as well as fans, think it is. Much of this sub-genre of midnight madness horror falls into the unfair perception of cheap, schlock, overrated and over the top films. Why true to a certain point, it is unfair because memorable midnight cinema is a true artistic talent. Whether it has been films like The Gravedancers, Big Ass Spider, Lavalantula or the recently released on DVD demonic, insanity romp Don’t Kill It, Mendez is versatile and a talent that crafts gems with next to nothing in budget, resources and more, turning in some of the most enjoyable time you will spend.
Written and co-produced by the duo of Dan Berk and Robert Olsen (who both just directed the feature The Stakelander) and starring talents like Dolph Lundgren (Expendables) and Kristina Klebe(Proxy), the narrative surrounds a demon hunter named Jebediah Woodley (Lundgren) and a FBI agent named Evelyn Pierce (Klebe) who has a homecoming to investigate sets of multiple homicides which are going beyond the bounds of the local authority. Trying to recapture the very violent, loud and devastating demon, Woodley must team with Pierce to stop the carnage and bloody murder spree that the entity in this small bible thumping town as it jumps from body to body possessing its host until death. Working through the mystery of where it will jump to next, the small town mentality slowing them down and the gruesome thrills, the duo must find a way of containing the demon again and at the same time not killing each other!
Warning: This is a full on blood bath in the most funny, visual and smart way. In all the other reviews, what has not been said? For me personally, this movie was a lot of fun and got better and better watching it several times. It made me laugh, smile, cringe and go hell yes! through the running time. Yes, it has issues but who cares! Mendez, crew and cast kick ass on this genre popcorn blend of horror bedlam! Somethings that were effective include the Mississippi based locations and sets that are so fitting for the small town, religious vibe that becomes a canvas for the battle between the otherworld demon, weathered hunter at the end of his evolutionary branch and fed who wats to prove everyone wrong. During the majority of the film, this canvas is painted with tons of action, thrills, splatters of all kinds of body parts and fluids with this mix of very intense and satisfying practical and digital kill FX/makeup that for a “Midnight Movie” tag is just plain wonderful and makes you at times cheer! Each kill has a power to it, a signature that does not seem to repeat as one minute shotguns are creating holes that are blown through chests of town folk with the next moment heads of the faithful are exploding then the next bodies of neighbors are smashing against walls with limbs being ripped off. Mendez and his assistant directors understand how to organize, execute, choreograph and create controlled chaos with some exceptional group kill scenes that fall under the same umbrella as Kingsman: The Secret Service for me.
Yes, this film is not for the faint of heart but is balanced out with just enjoyable and fitting performances from most of the cast including Klebe who is stellar as the agent showing her trademark toughness, sass and tenderness which has made her a focal point of a well-rounded career in film to date. Lundgren is so damn bad ass as he breaks the mold of the exploitative Indiana Jones! His physical stature and more aged movements in the way he handles situations. Playing a role that he makes his own, he brings a dry humor and delivery that is the cherry on top of the over the top costumed road warrior and hunter. Whether he is kicking ass, shooting a net gun (which is such a cool prop) or speaking words laced with truth and sarcasm (including wishing people Merry Christmas to try and be civil), he is a just a good character and an outside the box casting that works for the film. He brings wisdom and a look only Mendez’s work could pull off effectively.
At first, I struggled with the demon but the simplicity of the possession while not intended to be this basic is again smart and does not over shadow the performances in the film. I was at first expecting bigger and more out there from Mendez but after watching the film over and over, I respect what Mendez and crew did for the representation of the demons with simple practical and digital characteristics like the violent actions, black eyes and screeches. This, along with the sound work and score bring the characters and scenes together as we have the typical yet effective score (created by Juliette and Sean Beavan)enhances the mood, stimulates atmosphere and createsa more defined signature that hooks the viewer.
Yes, the camera work and FX feels limited at times but the framing and movement by cinematographerJan-Michael Losada (who worked with Mendez on Tales of Halloween). Yes, the film is not as campy as fans may have thought with Mendez’s previous work and the relationship dynamic between Lundgren and Klebe’s characters are in the mold of a 1980’s hybrid horror story meets the reluctant buddy cop action flick. Many may complain but for what MendezI am sure had to work with… screw that and just enjoy this piece of cinema for the blood, body count, humor and passion behind it. A favorite of mine so far, this year, Don’t Kill Itis a fit for any horror fan as this film offers so much to the viewer and will find cult status as the film grows older. It is plain and simple a blood bath of insanity! Support indie horror and pick up a copy right now!
Watch the trailer here:
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