Laid to Rest, a direct-to-video slasher movie coming soon from Anchor Bay Entertainment, just launches into itself. Press Play on the DVD's menu system and you're treated instantly to a blaring industrial hard rock song and an opening credits montage of the movie's killer, ChromeSkull (more on him in a bit), and his victims.
No production company logos. No distributor logos. No opening scene to establish the mood.
I thought this was actually fitting, for Laid to Rest is what it is: a low budget slasher movie with a seemingly unstoppable masked killer, a "Final Girl" that he's after, and a bunch of people who get in the way and thus get massacred in a bloody and violent manner. It's simple and pure, so why let anything interfere with the bloodletting?
The thing that I admired about Laid to Rest is its purity in sticking with the slasher genre. Writer and director Robert Hall follows genre conventions to the letter, yet he does so fairly convincingly, crafting an entertaining 90 minute thrill ride. It's not a great film, but then, it has neither big budget nor arthouse pretensions.
The killer, christened ChromeSkull, is the typical silent and indestructible type. He's masked, of course, though his chrome skull is fairly memorable, especially in scenes when his victims' faces are reflected in the forehead area. He also likes to perch a camcorder on his right shoulder to record his mayhem, and his collection of videos is fairly extensive. All in all, ChromeSkull is a well-conceived slasher and definitely creepy.
Playing the role of the "Final Girl" is Bobbi Sue Luther, who also serves as one of the movie's producers. The Girl, as she's referred to in the credits even though other characters christen her Princess, is an amnesiac, having suffered an injury to her head, and the film's opening finds her trapped in a coffin at a mortuary. Managing to break free, she finds herself stalked by ChromeSkull, enlisting the help of several local guys to help save her, and of course, serve as fodder for ChromeSkull's weapon of choice, large serrated knives.
And yes, ChromeSkull's kills, proportioned out fairly evenly through the movie's running time, are suitably bloody and vicious. Music is provided by the likes of Suicidal Tendencies and Deadbox, if that tells you anything about the tone of Laid to Rest. All in all, it's an aggressive movie. The only drawback is that the movie contrives a lot of convenient coincidences to keep the plot rolling. Neither person in the first two homes that The Girl goes to for help, for instance, have working telephones(!!). And, of course, the movie is set in the middle of nowhere and yet characters are driving around in vehicles that are nearly empty of gas. Et cetera. Et cetera.
Still, logic is a lesser concern for fans of slasher movies, and Laid to Rest delivers on the bloody mayhem. Recommended.
Anchor Bay provides Laid to Rest an anamorphic widescreen presentation in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. This is a dark movie - set over one night - so there's a fair amount of video noise. Otherwise, however, I thought the image looked pretty sharp.
The sole audio track is an English language Dolby Digital 5.1 affair. Like the movie, it's an aggressive mix, with the industrial heavy metal music suitably strong. Dialogue is always clear, however.
Optional subtitles are available in English for the deaf and hearing impaired.
Trailers precede the main menu for Lightning Bug, The Alphabet Killer, Crowley, and Tokyo Zombie. There's no link to these trailers in the menu system, but a Trailer option does lead to the trailer for Laid to Rest.
More significantly, an audio commentary track is available with writer and director Robert Hall, and producer and actress Bobbi Sue Luther. They're also a married couple, as they reveal at the start. A random sampling suggests that it's a fun and informative track.
Additional extras include two typical documentary-style featurettes: Torture Porn: The SFX of LAID TO REST (7:38) has the behind-the-scenes crew discussing the effects work, and Postmortem: The Making of LAID TO REST (31:26) covers just about everything else, with soundbyte comments from the director, cast, and crew. Bloopers (6:43) and Deleted Scenes (4:20) offer what they advertise, including a funny riff that ChromeSkull performs on Blade Runner. Kudos to Anchor Bay for presenting all of these in anamorphic widescreen.
Aggressive and bloody (and admittedly lacking in logic), Laid to Rest delivers stereotypical slasher mayhem respectably given its clear low budget. ChromeSkull, the film's silent and masked killer, is a memorable antagonist. Recommended to the horror crowd.