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.
EMD! Music Video
Cockfight Music Video
Alternate Pete Takes
Cast and Crew Commentary