Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2
by Jason Coffman
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Robert Hall’s Laid to Rest was a fun and extremely gory throwback to 80’s-styled slasher films. With a very high body count and some amazing practical effects and makeup, Hall did a great job of updating the slasher genre with pitch black humor and hinting at an intriguing mythology behind the film’s “hero,” Chromeskull. Like any good monster, Chromeskull is back despite seemingly being left in no condition to do so at the end of the first film. Unfortunately, it seems like Hall left the franchise’s sense of humor behind, and its presence is sorely missed.
Chromeskull opens literally right after the end of the first film, with Chromeskull (Nick Principe) in pretty bad shape after being defeated by Tommy (Thomas Dekker) and The Girl (Allison Kyler). Tommy and The Girl drive away and a paramilitary team is shortly on the scene, taking Chromeskull to be revived while Preston (Brian Austin Green), one of Chromeskull’s high-ranking employees, tracks down The Girl to finish her off. After a gruesome opening credits sequence shows a team of surgeons working to save Chromeskull, the film jumps forward to a point where Chromeskull is back in action and planning a new game.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Chromeskull is its depiction of Chromeskull’s organization. Brian Austin Green is actually really good as a sociopath looking to climb this bizarre corporate ladder, and Danielle Harris takes a break from her usual victim role as one of Chromeskull’s high-ranking assistants. What exactly all this is about is still not entirely clear, but the peek behind the curtain that was only hinted at in the first film is interesting. Too bad the rest of the film is not quite at the same level.
Once Chromeskull gets up and running, the kills are just as gruesomely inventive and flawlessly depicted as they were in Laid to Rest, but a large number of the victims are police investigating a disappearance. The uncertain sense that anyone on screen could have a knife take their face off at any second that made the first film fun is completely absent this time around, and without it the film is just a catalog of gory, unpleasant murders. And as far as those go, they are impressively executed (no pun intended), but they don’t make up for the lack of the first film’s gleeful malevolence. Here’s hoping Laid to Rest 3 will be more fun.
Image Entertainment releases Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2 on DVD and Blu-ray on 20 September 2011. Special features include commentary with Robert Hall, co-writer Kevin Bocarde and star Brian Austin Green, “A Cut Above” featurette, “Jump to a Kill” feature, bloopers, deleted scenes, and the film’s trailer.
Jason Coffman is a film writer living in Chicago. He writes reviews for Film Monthly and “The Crown International Files” for Criticplanet.org as well as contributing to Fine Print Magazine (www.fineprintmag.net).
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