9 April 2009 | Anonymous_Maxine
Back to basics of a whole new kind...
My first reaction to the first few minutes of Laid to Rest was that it was a cheap, no-budget horror film typical of the direct-to-video nonsense that you so often see populating the new release wall at the video store. Well, that I remember seeing on the new release wall at the video store, anyway. It's been a couple yeas since I've lived in the states and even longer since Netflix left me with any reason to ever visit a video store, but back in 2004 or so I used to have that monthly no-limit rental service at both Blockbuster and Hollywood Video and for a brief period I tried to keep up with ALL of the new movies, which included this horizonless stream of train wrecks that seemed to come out of nowhere.
And in many ways, that's what Laid to Rest is, but in some interesting other ways, it's not. Yeah it's true that the story is a prime example of mind-numbing pointlessness, but it would be a mistake to relegate the thing to the dark world of bottom shelf obscurity. Sort of. You see, there's not a scrap of originality or significance to the movie, but it is a perfect example of something bigger that is happening around us in the movie world at large.
80 years ago, movie-going audiences would have been shocked out of their chairs to see a man and a woman kiss on screen. Hell, 50 years ago they were still pretty uncomfortable with it. 10 years ago, even the most brutally violent horror movies more often than not showed the KILLER during the kill scenes, as movie blood sprayed all over them. Then Scream came along (by the way, true story – just this second I mis-typed "Scream" and it accidentally came out "Scarem." Interesting.) and we saw the hugely famous Drew Barrymore get stabbed in the chest in the opening scene. No cutaway or anything, remember that? The movie briefly goes into slow motion and audiences the world over were shocked that we were actually looking at this knife going into this girl's chest. I'd been watching scary movies for years by that point and even I was pretty amazed. Strangely, to this day it is still a scene that makes me a little uncomfortable.
Now, on the other hand, such a thing is as tame as those monster movies that had people jumping out of their chairs in the 1950s, so we get movies like Laid to Rest which, if you were to show it to some of those audiences, would probably flood the theaters with heart attack victims. There is no cutting away here, man. Not by a long shot and it's going to be a pretty good idea for you to be well aware of that before you start watching it.
Such a movie could never be released in wide theatrical release, you understand, but that's the huge shift that's taking place in the movie world right now. Making movies is getting easier, nearly to the point where any jerk with a camera and a computer can get a movie made as long as he can find someone to distribute it. Of course, it's to be expected that these movies are almost uniformly awful, and Laid to Rest is a prime example. It's pretty bad, but these things are getting better and they're only going to continue to get better as people learn to make better and better movies with simpler equipment, at which point the direct-to- video market will grow and improve, and the important thing is that all of this will happen beyond the grasp of the censorship-happy MPAA.
The result, of course, is that we get movies like Laid to Rest which feature nothing but the grotesque developments of pushing the violence envelope, which is really all that this movie does. Like literally. The movie has absolutely nothing to it except violence, which is why all this stuff about the MPAA came to my mind.
There is no backstory to the killer in the movie whatsoever, or really any backstory to the story itself. Some big-breasted brunette wakes up in a closed casket, no idea who she is or why she's there. She manages to knock the thing over and escape, but before she gets out of the funeral home she witnesses a man wearing a chrome skull mask brutally kill another man, and then the killer comes after her.
Why does he want to kill her? Who knows? Who cares? Any explanation would just waste time. We understand that this is a slasher movie, and this particular slasher movie has no interest in such time-wasting things as character depth or coherent story structure. The important thing is that for the rest of the movie he relentlessly pursues her, viciously killing anyone who gets in his way with a serrated, double-edged knife.
Gore hounds will be highly impressed, as the movie is astonishingly and graphically bloody. We get sustained shots of the killer sawing away at various body parts, and one scene where we the central cast pops the lids off of a succession of coffins, revealing some of the killer's past kills, which he has taken the time to save, for future reference, let's say. I won't go into any details about the state of the victims in the coffins, let's just say that they are one of many reasons that the movie is not for the faint of heart, or the squeamish, or really anyone who, for example, would feel some hesitation at taking up the opportunity to do a little dissecting work on a human cadaver. But the rest of you are going to love it