(Spoilers for Laid to Rest below)
I do not understand this. After reading the article about your movie Laid to Rest in the April issue of Rue Morgue magazine, to which you apparently contributed some comments, I was really looking forward to seeing the film. Then I heard from friends who attended this years Los Angeles Fangoria Festival that the film was much lauded over there and I figured this was pretty close to a sure thing. You see, I’m of the opinion that we’ve been knee-deep in what appears to be a horror movie renaissance of late and Laid to Rest seemed to come recommended from all the same sources as the others. A combination of viral buzz, interviews, articles and word of mouth have given me a new stock of classics to cherish for years to come; INSIDE, THE WIZARD OF GORE, REPO THE GENETIC OPERA, VINYAN, MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D – these have all added veritable dimensions to a genre I love but Hollywood seems hellbent on gobbling up and regurgitating for the nitwit masses who expect two simple things when they go to a horror movie: blood and tits. And while arguably MBV3D was nothing but blood and tits it was blood and tits done A) the right way and B) in 3D. All of those other remakes of late could take a page from the crew on that one – there may be conventions to the horror genre, the slasher sub-genre in particular, but there are also ways to do it right. After your comments of a similar nature in the aforementioned periodical I thought for sure Laid to Rest was going to fight the good fight, or perhaps more accurately slay the good slay. However, that was most definitely not the case.
If you sit down and think about the high-minded and commendable idea of a filmmaker out to give us a new Slasher icon there is one thing above all else that that filmmaker will need to get started, without which the movie will never stick to the hearts of the fans. That one thing you nailed so beautifully that I just cannot understand what it was that went wrong with the rest of the film. That one thing is of course is ya gotta have an iconic slasher.
You sir, most definitely do with Chrome skull.
However, all that being said, yes, I will think favorably of your maniac’s visage for years to come when immersed in fun yet pointless alcohol-inspired discussions with other young men and women raised in the 80’s on a steady diet of horror films. But that, unfortunately, is where all favorable recollections of Laid to Rest will stop because the rest of the flick blew. I apologize for being crude, but it did.
First, your leading lady could not act. Now I know, I know, since when is the ability to act a prerequisite for a leading slasher-flick chick? Granted, but here there was a maddeningly disastrous synergy between how bad the dialogue was and how bad Ms. Luther delivered it. ‘I woke up in a dead box?’ – anyone can see the effect you were going for but anyone can also see that it just didn’t stick. Why didn’t the people around her correct her? A petty critique maybe, but seriously, I felt like there was a ‘the character has amnesia’ button on the word processor and that it was pushed until it broke off.
WE GOT IT ALMOST IMMEDIATELY. No need to underline what has already been underlined dozens of times. And her fear, it was all up and down. One minute she’s unconvincingly terrified, the next she’s ready to kick ass, and the next she’s terrified again. I know in a real life situation there would be ups and downs to a full out panic, but this felt more like ups and downs in the writing and acting.
Next, Tucker was quite likable, and I understood wanting the red herring of his intentions when he first picks ‘The Girl’ up, but really, it seemed like in the first draft of the film maybe he was supposed to be a little bit more of a creep and then in a subsequent one he became the good-natured good ‘ol boy you went with – and no one ever went back to update and shade the edges of the character in that initial draft. And Sean Whalen’s character Steven – I don’t even know where to start there. Moments for comedy that seemed to be wishy washy – like you wanted to go with it to break the tension but then were afraid to step into that ‘tongue-in-cheek or camp flair’* territory that you mention in Rue Morgue. Fine, I love good horror/comedies but would actually LOVE to see a genuine, bad ass I’m-going-to-tear-your-fucking-skull-from-your-face slasher flick executed without any laughs and nothing but the direst of tensions the whole way through. But it’s one or the other. Use humor or don’t, but don’t back peddle. If you were unsure about it why have Whalen play the role with any humor at all? Watching it I was struck by the fact that it seemed ‘Steven’ had his feet planted firmly in a different film than the rest of the cast. After Steven appeared I couldn’t help feeling pulled in multiple, contradictory directions for most of the rest of the film.
Case in point, ‘My favorite bitches are sexy bitches.’ Funny as hell, but it seemed out of place and forced.
And the motivations – I mean I know the survival motivations of anyone in a slasher movie hardly ever make any sense but here it just seemed retarded. It felt as though your answer to getting the survivors to stay where you wanted the action moved to was simply to have them say, ‘We’ll stay here until Sun up,’ every time they came to a new location for the killing to take place, even though they start out with the intentions of heading to town where their state constantly that their best chance of survival lies. Case in point – it is ridiculous with a capitol ‘R’ that ‘The Girl’ would want to go back into the funeral home ‘because I might remember something’ one minute if for the whole first half of the movie she was terrified of the place and trying to get away from it and to the ‘police lady’ who would help her.
I really did, however, like the fact that we never saw Chromey’s face and that you killed him, and in quite a grizzly fashion at that. But still, as a whole I just didn’t take this seriously, and I it really seemed as though that was what you wanted. So tell me please, what happened?
* Rue Morgue issue #88, April 2009. ‘Stainless Steel Psycho’ by Philip Brown, pges 38-39