July 25, 2011

Laid to Rest (2009)

"A terrifying story of a young girl who wakes up in a casket with a traumatic head injury and no memory of her identity. She quickly realizes she was abducted by a deranged serial murderer and in an isolated rural town she must survive the night and outsmart the technologically inclined killer who is hellbent on finishing what he started."

With the release of "ChromeSkull: Laid to Rest 2" only a couple of months away, I decided to rewatch "Laid to Rest" to try and work out how a sequel could even be possible. I didn't work out an answer (although I already know that Thomas Dekker will reprise his role) but I did enjoy this slasher just as much as when I first saw it.

Yes, I actually enjoyed a slasher movie. It happens sometimes. I really don't understand the hate that "Laid to Rest" has attracted all over the internet as I think that it's a very good film. I originally watched it as a double-bill with "Hatchet" (2007) just to get both of them out of the way in one night and 'Laid to Rest" was easily the better of the two movies.

Possibly, because "Hatchet" came out first, nostalgic horror fans were already sick to death of slasher movie makers trying to create iconic villains to replace their beloved Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers. I'm all for replacing anything from the late '70s and '80s as we are now three decades on from when any of those characters were socially relevant. Let the haters keep on hating and living in the past but I'm going to enjoy as many new horror films as possible.

From various message boards, I've picked up on the fact that Bobbi Sue Luther's performance was what really got the slasher fanboys all bent out of shape. Just because she is married to the director, Robert Hall, she got accused of not being able to act and was obviously only in the film because of nepotism. Who cares? I really don't care how she came to be the lead but I'm glad she was. I thought she was great. She's pretty, voluptuous and just as annoying as every other female in a horror film but she can act. She even managed to make me care about her character and that's a rarity. She could have got even more naked to make me truly happy but I saw enough of what I needed to.

The whole idea of dismissing nepotism in Hollywood as a bad thing is pretty stupid anyway. Everybody knows one another on some level and you often find the same teams of actors and other crew in the same projects. Robert Hall owns "Almost Human Inc" and has created special effects for so many TV series that it's no surprise to see where he got his actors from. Basically, it was anyone he already knew. I see no problem with that at all. It's just show business and no-one is naive enough to think that it's fair. Would people have been happier if all the actors were complete unknowns?

I think the casting worked out really well and even with Lena Headey and Thomas Dekker in it, it could hardly be called a "Sarah Connor Chronicles" reunion when they don't even have any scenes together. I have no idea who played "Chromeskull" without looking it up and don't even care really. Anyone prepared to wear the mask could have done it and nobody would be any the wiser.

As much as I'd like to do nothing but praise "Laid to Rest", that wouldn't be very objective of me or what anyone expects from my blog anyway. Obviously there were a few unresolved questions rather than plotholes, several unbelievably stupid actions, and anyone who makes it through the opening titles without getting a headache deserves some kind of award.

Until I see the sequel, I won't be able to say for sure if Chromeskull is as iconic as intended. I was just reminded far too much of the "Ghost House Pictures" logo and a "Scream'n Demons" toy motorcycle that I had in the '70s. Obviously Chromeskull's use of technology and really evil looking knives set him apart from other villains but it's not enough so far to make him memorable.

The one thing I will remember is that "Laid to Rest" is one of the few slashers in recent years where everything is played straight. Apart from Sean Whalen's character, Steven, being slightly comical, there aren't any stupid jokes or obvious parodies going on to ruin the atmosphere. It's claustrophobic and tense in places but, of course, there's a lot of room for improvement there too. Some scenes work better than others and it's hardly the most perfect horror movie ever made even though it's certainly one of the goriest. The effects are fantastic.

Having thought it over, I've decided to put "Laid to Rest" in the Vault. It had very good production values and I liked everyone involved in it even if I don't know half of their names. I'm hoping the sequel will be just as good and, although the online reviewers who have already seen a preview are not ones who I would ever trust, the chances are that it really will be even more brutal.

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