By Jonathan Smith
Robert Hall’s Laid to Rest is a slasher film that doesn’t waste any time on story in order to get to its blood-soaked kill sequences. A young woman (Bobbi Sue Luther) awakens to find herself with amnesia and locked in a casket in a funeral home. After breaking out, she is almost immediately confronted by “Chrome Skull” (Nick Drincipe), a serial killer who records his torturing and killing of young women via a video recorder attached to his shoulder (and who is obviously confident enough to have his name on his car’s licence plate). All of this is learned within the first few minutes of the film, and from there things unfold as our nameless heroine stumbles from scene to scene, running into an assortment of characters who are then similarly pursued by the Terminator-esque Chrome Skull as they attempt to help her both physically and mentally. Ultimately the film is a showcase for some strong practical squirm-inducing gore sequences that can’t save it from mediocrity.
The most offensive things about Laid to Rest are the sloppiness of its plot and the seeming stupidity of its characters. Various potential clues with regard to the identity of the heroine and her monstrous pursuer are dropped, only to never come to any sort of fruition. Many potential plot twists are set up only to never come through. The climax and resolution come and go, and I was left feeling like there could’ve been additional layers of intrigue that were simply ignored. The killer’s use of a video camera is intriguing, but we never learn anything about it or see it significantly used as an interesting narrative tool. As for the main characters, they frequently come off as confused and helpless, and not because of the frightening scenario with which they are faced. The film seems content portraying people in the southern United States as well-meaning but almost entirely incompetent with regards to even the most basic of technologies and social services. One can hope that the film is supposed to be a parody, an exaggerated send-up of conventions, but there’s little evidence to suggest that this is the case.
While the film is pretty bad most of the time, it’s worth mentioning what it does well — displays of grotesque and entertaining (if somewhat repetitive) gore effects. There’s little indication of CGI here, just good ol’ fashioned fake blood, guts, and prosthetics. To make up for the predictable instances, there are two moments in particular (one featured tire sealant) that are truly cringe-worthy. Gore hounds and practical effects geeks will be satisfied with checking out Laid to Rest as part of their hunt for outrageous effects, assuming they can handle the light plot and confusing (and confused) characters. All others are advised that the movie takes itself too seriously to be a silly mess of a popcorn movie, but that it isn’t good enough to be much of anything more.
(Anchor Bay Entertainment)