Sunday, September 7, 2014

Horror Film Review

Knight of the Dead (2013):  A zombie flick set in 14th century Britain during the Black Death that involves the Holy Grail sounds theory.  Sadly, sometime during the process where theory becomes practice, anything even remotely approaching interesting was irrevocably lost.  What we ended up with is a dreary, meager tale that like the plague itself, should be wiped out before it can infect an unsuspecting public.

The first misconception is that this film involves King Arthur's knights or any kind of knight like the one in the movie poster over there.  Nope.  There's the priest Leuthar (Feth Greenwood) and four bodyguards:  Bjorn (Dylan Jones), Anzo (Lee Bennett), and brothers Gabriel and Raphael (Alan Calton and Jason Beeston).  Leuthar was ordered to pick up the Cup of Christ from a monastery and transport it to a mountain.  Or something.  The details regarding the grail's destination and reasons for its move are murky at best.  Anyway, the group manages to piss off some local thugs and must flee through a valley said to be cursed by God.  Yeah, no shit.  It's filled to the gills with the undead.  A mysterious woman named Badriyah (Viven Vilela) appears and offers to act as a guide through the punishing landscape.  The thugs, meanwhile, are hot on their heels and led by Calon (George McCluskey) who obviously gargles with gravel every morning.  One by one the bodyguards are taken out by the zombies.  Leuthar and Badriyah engage in behavior that can only be described as naughty.  Calon catches up with them and there's a three-way showdown.  Everybody loses.  Well, Leuthar and the grail survive, but we still don't know where the hell they're going.

The film was not shot in black and white but damned close.  It felt like I was watching it through a pair of sunglasses.  When I said "dreary" I didn't just mean the story.  They went out of their way to make it as gloomy as possible.  Gloomy wasn't enough for these filmmakers, though.  They also had to confound us with a nonsensical plot that had more holes than Christ's body after crucifixion (pardon the irreverent analogy).  The worst offense to logic came when Leuthar had one of the bodyguards drink from the grail after being bitten by a zombie.  Did it cure him?  Did it keep him from turning?  No and no.  So what was the point in making us believe it's the real grail?  Beats the hell out of me.  One other irritant...the guys know they have to destroy the head and yet they keep slashing and whacking at the upper torso.  Why?   It's times like this when I find myself rooting for the hordes of undead.

The Skinny

Acting:  The best actors die earliest.  The worst actor lives and therefore is afforded the most screen time.  There is no justice in the picture business.
Story:  Great idea, awful execution.
Direction:  Lifeless.
Production Values:  A study in dull.
Gore/FX:  There is one fairly groovy shot where one of the swordsmen cleaves a zombie in half with a battleaxe.  Vertically, not horizontally.  It's CGI, of course, but still...not bad.
Scares:  None.
Ending:  Riding away on a horse.  ???
Verdict:  Should you see Knight of the Dead?  I can't imagine a scenario in which you'd want to.  OK...I suppose if you were given a choice between this and watching a Honey Boo Boo marathon, then it would be acceptable.  Just.

Rating:  1 out of 5

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