Unrated Director's Cut
Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
US Rating: Unrated
Film Length: 90 Mins
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: Dolby Surround 5.1
Subtitles: English for the Hearing Impaired
Review Date: May 5, 2009
The Film - out of
What is the state of American horror? Compared to the world, it is sadly adrift in the realm of slasher fetishistic unoriginality and retreads of Japanese ghost films. There is a place for horror remakes and a place for slasher horror as well. But the horror scene is poorly out of balance and perhaps in its most bleak state since before the revival that took hold in the 1980’s. There have been several films that stood out from the crowd like The Blair Witch Project and The Descent - but for a genre that has produced wickedly good thrills and chills through the decades (The Exorcist, Night of the Living Dead, The Shining, Psycho) and a plentiful parade of good ‘bad’ horror films (Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Dead Alive, The Relic, Critters ) – it seems lost, without a film that would give it a new lease on death and a resurgent energy.
Every new horror film is a chance at something new; a chance not necessarily to give a sense of rebirth to a damaged genre, but something worthy of our time and attention and something worthy of at least keeping us going until that genre busting flick graces either our movie theaters or our home theaters.
I get the sense that Laid to Rest which regurgitates the unstoppable killer tracking down and slaughtering victim after victim plot, simply wanted to have fun within the narrow confines of the slasher premise. Layering brutal slaying upon gruesome offing seems to be the primary resolve of this low budget flick – but it forgets that while time must have been spent thinking up the modus operandi of its killer and interesting ways to brutalize and destroy its victims, time should have been spent laying out at least the semblance of a plot.
A girl wakes up in a coffin inside a funeral home with no memory of who she is or how she got there. Within a few minutes, she finds herself being hunted by a chrome-skulled madman with a video camera mounted on his shoulder – she escapes, but is pursued, embroiling others in the metal faced murderers rampaging.
And that pretty much sums up what happens.
What excruciating and unoriginal horror dregs this film really is. The very worst of the Saw film horror-porn rears its head and breeds onscreen to create a tale that lacks originality in plotting and merely provides the basest damsel in distress notion with which gruesome killings can be produced for the lowest form of horror entertainment. Laid to Rest must have tried to deliver a sense of humor amongst the carnage; a wit to balance the brutally bloody carnage. It doesn’t work. Like the least imaginiative of the horror films in the ‘8 Films to Die For’ collections, this film plods through unoriginal and utterly unlikely scenes that amount to less than B movie quality proceedings. Characters who act and interact in ways that defy logic (like the oblivious man who picks up the obviously distressed and distraught girl with memory loss but doesn’t offer any attempt at concern or compassion and instead endlessly prattles on about meaningless things). When characters defy logic – or purposefully run in the opposite direction for the ease of the fright or the scare, you can chalk that up to lazy writing.
You may expect a certain low-grade acting quality in films like these, driven in no small part by primitive A-B-C scripting, but Bobbi Sue Luther who portrays the damsel simply called ‘the girl’ is nauseatingly bad. And the slew of others populating the film drip with a ludicrously bad form of acting bring the whole affair to a miserably unentertaining halt – all that despite the quite effective special effects of human gutting and so forth.
Anchor Bay presents Laid to Rest in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and the image quality is very, very good. The image is uniformly clean and the level of detail is surprising at times – so good in fact that for a moment I wondered if I had somehow been sent the blu-ray version (which I now discover does not exist). But the details are terrific, particularly during the opening moments of ‘the girl’ stuck in the casket
The blood is vivid, deep and plentiful – the night time setting for the film doesn’t bleed shadows or swallow what we see. Surprisingly good!
Writer/Director Robert Hall clearly sought to create a visceral experience with his jolting violence and flashy, frantic editing. That experience is enforced by the active Dolby Surround 5.1 with a dedication to fear inducement with screams and pulsating rock sounds that see-saw around the speakers, creating an interesting ambient sound of distress. Fidelity is rather good, the various channels clear and issue free, though more directional effects in the surrounds would have served the film a little better.
Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Robert Hall and Actor/Producer Bobbi Sue Luther – A sometimes entertaining commentary that remains rather serious throughout – discussing in legitimate ways how the film was shot; the challenges etc. But a commentary that does not acknowledge the many issues that I found or becomes caught up in finding more layers and meaning in the finished film than could possible really exist doesn’t call for a second listen.
Postmortem: The Making of LAID TO REST - (31:25) – A good ‘making of’ with some pretty good behind the scenes footage – but again, reads more into what the finished product becomes than comes across to the audience (or myself, at least).
Torture: The SFX of LAID TO REST - (7:37) – Surprisingly brief look at the special effects given its obvious criticality to the production – interesting nonetheless.
Deleted Scenes - (4:19) – Several deleted scenes that begins with a humorous ode to one of the greatest science-fiction films of all time. Not much added here.
Bloopers - (6:42) – Standard flub fare that ends with a recalling of a story when an assistant producer steps in to film an FX shot – quite amusing.
I seriously wonder if I am being too harsh on Laid to Rest. Perhaps I just “don’t get it” – something I used to say to so-called horror fans that too easily dismissed films that I felt brought an edge, distinctiveness or just a good old sense of fun to the many varied horror genre. When others thumbed their noses at treasures like Dead Alive and Bad Taste or too readily ignored more dramatic attempts such as Mimic or Book of Shadows, The Blair Witch Project’s universally ignored follow up, I would happily and passionately defend them for what I felt were deserving reasons. But the wave of torture embracing slasher films bring me nothing. Horror should scare you – the deeper and longer lasting the chill, the greater the film. Truly terrifying horror films - Jaws, The Exorcist - even the original A Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween reached down deep inside us and scared us silly. But being grossed out, and no giggle expected, is a fundamental let-down of the horror genre and zero weight added to the power of what it can accomplish when done right. Sorry, Laid to Rest - I don’t think I can muster up much good to say about you.