Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media

Laid to Rest (2009)
Anchor Bay | Buy at Amazon | Review by Dan Taylor

I make no apologies for my love of slasher films. And why should I? I was 11 years old when John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN came out and around 13 when our house was wired for cable and started receiving things like that seminal work and Sean Cunningham's FRIDAY THE 13th. A VCR soon followed and, well, you can figure out the rest. To me, slasher films are horror. Forget hokey monsters like Frankenstein, slow-pokes like the mummy, or vampires, the attention-starved drama queens of the genre. I'll take Jason, Michael and Co. any day.

More than two decades later I'm still a sucker for a good old slasher flick, vintage be damned. Hell, the first thing I watched after hooking up my Roku and tapping Netflix's Instant View library? 1980's GRADUATION DAY with Christopher George. And guess what? I loved every improbable, trash-filled second.

So it goes without saying that when I started hearing positive buzz for the low-budget slasher LAID TO REST it immediately jumped to the top of my Halloween must-watch list.

Echoing shades of Lucio Fulci's GATES OF HELL, a young woman wakes up in a coffin in a remote funeral home. She frees herself but soon realizes that thanks to a konk on the head she has no idea who she is, where she is, or how she got there. Worse yet, she's being stalked by a relentless, vicious killer sporting a chrome skull mask.

Narrowly escaping her would-be killer and the funeral home, The Girl (WWE diva-wannabe and LAID TO REST producer Bobbie Sue Luther) stumbles out into the countryside and hitches a ride with Tucker (Kevin Gage), a salt-of-the-earth local who has the gruff but lovable appeal of vintage Jesse "The Body" Ventura.

A roaming serial killer who delights in and videotapes his kills, Chrome Skull (Nick Principe) is not to be denied and tracks the pair down, hacking and slashing his way through everyone they come in contact with as he hunts them through the night. In a plot twist reminiscent of SLIVER - another of the best horror flicks in recent memory – the pair find themselves holed up in a convenience store, desperately trying to stay alive until help arrives.

While LAID TO REST doesn't re-invent the genre or try to balance the horror with humor ala BEHIND THE MASK or HATCHET, I admired and appreciated the way writer/director Robert Hall dispensed with slasher tradition and injected me right into the meat of the story. The gory credit sequence is filled with top-notch and wet, wet, wet effects work and we're never force-fed some nebulous backstory about Chrome Skull's past. Nope, all we get is what we can piece together, and that is that he appears to be a tech-obsessed, narcissist with a knack for cyber-stalking.

Despite its obvious low budget and shot-on-HD-video look, LAID TO REST (partially filmed in and around nearby Anne Arundel County, MD) delivers from start to finish. Luther and Gage are sympathetic in their roles while familiar faces like Thomas Dekker (John Conner from THE SARAH CONNER CHRONICLES) and character actor Sean Whalen (LOST, Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN II) lend the flick a little extra street cred. Even genre stalwart Richard Lynch turns up in a brief role as a funeral director and TV's Sarah Conner (Lena Headey) shows up long enough to die in grisly fashion.

And speaking of grisly, the effects work from Almost Human and Asylum VFX are worth the price-of-admission alone. Low-budget butchery has never looked so real!

I recently read that a pair of LAID TO REST sequels are in the works – it goes without saying that I have high hopes for the further adventures of Chrome Skull.

 


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