The slasher film is a well-worn genre staple. But still, there's surely some fresh perspective or take that can be tried, some new way of making the old formula work. Everyone Must Die is the latest attempt to recharge the indomitable killer with a knife film, and though its creators are enthusiastic and even inventive at times, it doesn't quite work.
The film runs through a fairly large cast pretty quickly, and as you might guess from the title, most of them die. We start off seeing what amounts to the last three minutes of a previous story, with the final confrontation between a black clad, masked killer and a young woman. She's stabbed to death, but her boyfriend is finally able to dispatch the killer with a lawnmower.
In the aftermath, the young woman's brother Kyle (Nick LaMantia) isn't convinced that the killer is really dead, even though Detective Jordan (Scott Lewis) assures him that he has personally seen the body. Kyle sees a paranoid reporter on the news who declares that the killer is in fact not dead. Further discussion reveals that the reporter has been tracking mass killings that are moving across the U.S., even continuing after the killer is seemingly deceased.
This is followed by a succession of well executed murder set pieces, including the death of the obnoxious white rapper MC Pink (Seth Joseph), who even when not rapping only speaks in rhyme. (Though, to the producers' credit, there is a fun bit where they subvert the viewer's expectations about the sexual relations of hapless teens going camping in horror movies.) And then we get to the final group of victims, who have come together to drink, eat, and mourn the loss of their musical hero, MC Pink.
This group consists of dumb jock Guy (Zoltan Zilai, making this a One Zoltan film, in my Balkan Names in the Credits rating system), the girl he's after Jenny (Nicole Beattie), Jewish golfer John (co-writer Derek Rothermund), student body presidential candidate Pete (director and co-writer Steve Rudzinski), his girlfriend Wanda (Aleen Isley), stuck up rich girl Kat (Erica Benda), and probably a couple of others I've missed, including a guy who only talks about eggs. (No, really.) Soon, they too are victimized by the black clad killer, who isn't dead at all. Kyle, who has been following them for some reason, intervenes to save Jenny's life, after which they are pretty much trapped in the house.
And it goes on from there. There really is some innovation in Everyone Must Die, and the twist is intriguing, though I won't spoil it here. The kills are for the most part very well done, with copious blood and convincing stabbing, chopping, etc. A little CG blood is used here and there for enhancement, but it works pretty well. But that's about the only unreservedly positive thing that can be said about the film. The story is too disjointed to fully engage the viewer, constantly jumping from character to character, some we only see for a few minutes before their death. Kyle is the only link between the disconnected stories, and he's not enough to maintain tension or any sense of identifying with or caring about these people.
The humor, while occasionally effective, is much too broad, always aiming for the lowest common denominator. Whether it's Guy confusing Tiger Woods with Tony the Tiger, or MC Pink's goofy rhyme speak, the humor isn't sharply written enough to work in this kind of film, or at least to give folks who enjoy more sophisticated fare a morsel or two to enjoy. The acting, with a few notable exceptions such as Nicole Beattie as Jenny, isn't great. It's played broadly as well, so perhaps it's just a problem of interpretation, but they come off as awkward and stilted a lot of the time. Of course, on super low budget films like this one, there often isn't the luxury of multiple takes to get it exactly right. And they put a lot on the screen for what they had to work with. The movie isn't horrible. It just isn't better than fair.
The cast and crew all seem quite enthusiastic and passionate about making this a great movie, but they can't quite get there. I hope they continue making movies, and keep getting better, and I'll certainly check out their next effort. Rent it.
The video is 1.78:1 widescreen, and looks good, but not great. The colors are a bit dull and the image isn't very sharp, but it's good enough not to detract from the viewing experience.
Audio is Dolby digital 2 channel, and sounds fine. Dialogue is always audible, and no hiss or other problem can be heard. No subtitles or alternate language tracks are included.
There are a few extras included. They are:
Just over five minutes of flubs, missed takes, and screw ups. Fairly enjoyable.
At 22:37, this functions as a behind the scenes featurette, and has interviews with director Steve Rudzinski, writer / actor Derek Rothermund, actors Zoltan Zilai, Seth Joseph, Aleen Isley, Nicole Beattie, and others. They all talk about favorite scenes, struggles of independent filmmaking, and other topics.
At 1:16, this is actually a pretty slick trailer.
EMD! Music Video
This is a heavy metal song written and performed by Carson Mauthe, set to stylized shots from the film. It's actually quite cool.
Cockfight Music Video
This is MC Pink rapping about an erotic encounter with a police officer, if you like that kind of thing.
Alternate Pete Takes
Several takes of Pete (Steve Rudzinski) coming out of a door and screaming. This is funny.
Cast and Crew Commentary
One of two commentaries on the disc, this one features Steve Rudzinski, Seth Joseph, Aleen Isley, and Scott Lewis. They are all excited and passionate filmmakers, and seem like quite enjoyable folks. They discuss filming in the oppressive heat, creepy basement locations, and effects troubles. Fairly interesting.
This commentary features Steve Rudzinski and Derek Rothermund, who co-wrote the film. They talk about the origin of the story and the characters. They actually made up lists of characters they wanted to kill, and cast themselves in parts to save money. This is also interesting.
Everyone Must Die isn't an awful movie, but it doesn't succeed in being as successful of a film as it wants to be. It's haphazard, being enjoyable at times and annoying at others. The splatter and gore elements are very well pulled off, but much of the rest could use improvement. These people love film enough that I'm sure they'll continue, and improve every time. I'll keep an eye out.