Saturday, December 20, 2014

Horror Film Review

Knights of Badassdom (2013):  Tricky business making a film that's part horror, part comedy, and part fantasy that also doesn't suck balls.  While it's obvious the folks behind this effort weren't exactly flush with cash, their finished product is an amusing if not dark take on the nerdy world of LARPing (live action role playing).  And so as it turns out, the film does not suck balls.  Mostly.

Eric (Steve Zahn) and Hung (Peter Dinklage) drag best friend Joe (Ryan Kwanten) to a weekend of LARPing to help Joe forget getting dumped by Beth (Margarita Leviava).  Using a mysterious spell book he bought on eBay, clueless wizard wannabe Eric accidentally summons a succubus demon from hell that immediately proceeds to dispatch other LARPers in a variety of disgustingly violent ways.  Realizing his mistake, Eric attempts to banish the demon by reciting another spell, which causes the demon to transform into a bigger and much scarier demon.  Oops.  Thus the friends along with Gwen (Summer Blau), her slightly psychotic cousin Gunther, and LARP event host Ronnie (Jimmi Simpson) step into roles of real heroes in order to avenge the dead and save the world.

What surprised me the most in this film was its ability to elicit laughs while managing to also convey the pathos demanded by the seriousness of gruesome murders.  That's very very hard to pull off.  Much of the credit goes to Simpson and his Ronnie character.  Well done.  Now, as for the negatives in the film, they are legion but for the most part harmless.  What was the deal with the paintball rednecks?  That subplot went nowhere and did nothing to further the main plot.  Fodder for the beast, I reckon.  I'm also confused by the decision to kill nearly everyone at the LARP event when a handful of deaths would have sufficed.  It was excessive and, in my opinion, a mistake.  Finally, the ending.  It's...goofy.  And for reasons I don't really understand myself, brings to mind Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny.  That's not necessarily a good thing.

The Skinny

Acting:  Zahn is oddly lifeless.  Dinklage is a hoot.  Kwanten and Blau do well enough.  Simpson excels.  By the way, Ted Raimi has an uncredited and hilarious cameo.
Story:  Speaking of Raimi, you definitely feel the influence of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead movies.  Especially Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness.  And that is necessarily a good thing.
Direction:  The action is smooth and the transitions between acts seamless.  The only bump in the road is the paintball redneck thing.
Production Values:  No budget information but it was obviously made on the cheap.  I can think of only three scenes shot indoors.  Cheap, however, does not equate to unprofessional in this case.
Gore/FX:  Oh, you know.  Beheadings, eviscerations, punching through chest cavities, etc.  It's not rated R for the cussing.  The demon monster at the end was not CGI but old school costume work and a bit silly looking.
Scares:  Not that kind of movie.
Ending:  It felt rushed.  And it's goofy.
Verdict:  Should you see Knights of Badassdom?  Despite the flaws, it's amusing enough and gross enough to warrant 86 minutes of your time.  One piece of advice:  eat afterwards.

Rating:  3 out of 5.

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