Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Don’t Kill It (2016)

Like it happens to all peaceful, unpleasantly religious small towns in the USA on screen, a peaceful, unpleasantly religious small town (indeed situated in the USA) is hit by a series of very curious murders, or rather a kind of relay killing spree, where the person who shoots the killer in self defence then continues the murders. And what’s with the black eyes and the strange shouty noises the killers make?
Well, it’s a demon, of course, possessing the person who killed its last host. The FBI sends Agent Evelyn Pierce (Kristina Klebe) to town to make sure this isn’t a case of domestic terrorism. She’s quite familiar with the place, because she spent part of her childhood there, earning herself the charming and not particularly fitting nickname of “Evil Lynn”.

Evelyn will quickly team up with the only guy (and he is such a guy) who knows what’s actually going on in town: demon hunter Jebediah Woodley (Dolph Lundgren, totally a Jebediah). Together, they not only fight crime, they just might have a chance at getting rid of an enemy you really shouldn’t kill lest you become him. Or is it he becomes you? Boy, identity is difficult.

Mike Mendez’s Don’t Kill It is the sort of film you’ll either loathe completely or enjoy quite a bit. I don’t think there’s any middle ground of vague detachment when it comes to appreciating its bloody comedy and its comical violence. I had a heck of a time watching it, starting with the gleefully bloody intro, continuing with Jebediah’s introduction via a pretty damn hilarious (and rather violent, would you believe?) lecture about consent in a bar (hopefully coming to a YouTube near you soon), and so on and so forth to the bloody finale.

Mendez certainly is a director who knows how to make the best out of a small budget, shooting - and particularly editing - the action sequences with verve, style and imagination. The pleasantly – and sometimes hilariously – bloody effects courtesy of Robert Kurtzman’s shop are a fine mix of the practical and the digital (only whenever that makes more sense), and have a wonderful gleeful kid in a candy store made of intestines vibe. This is very clearly a film that approaches cartoonishly exaggerated violence with glee and a sense of fun, and I for one found myself rather infected by both while watching it.

Don’t Kill It is also excellently paced, keeping the running time at lean eighty minutes that prevent the film from ever overstaying its welcome. Exposition happens quick and fast, the character moments are better written than you’d usually find them in a gory comedy – though certainly not original – and before things can ever become boring, the next bit of carnage or genuinely funny business happens.

Klebe turns out to be a perfect straight woman, while Lundgren really lets out the dry sardonic comedian a lot of his semi-cameo action movie appearances in the last decade or so have suggested, showing excellent timing saying absurd things with a very straight face - which, admittedly, is the only facial expression he has.

All this leaves Don’t Kill It as a film that knows exactly what it wants to accomplish and how, and then proceeds to do it to the joy and delight of everyone who likes their horror comedy bloody yet sardonic.

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