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Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2 (2011)

Image Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 9/20/2011

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/19/2011

In my recent reviews for A Horrible Way to Die and Haunting at the Beacon, I wrote about the notion of a movie featuring style over substance. This occurs when the visually artistic touches (the camerawork, costumes, etc.) are given more attention than the movie's story. If there was ever a movie which fit this criteria, it's 2009's Laid to Rest. The movie featured a flashy villain, tons of makeup effects, and a story which could be summed up in a minimum of words. The lack of story and character development certainly didn't shout "franchise", but still, here we are with Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2.

In Laid to Rest, a girl (Bobbi Sue Luther) awakens in a coffin with no memory of who she is or how she got there, and then finds herself pursued by "Chromeskull" (Nick Principe), a killer in a shiny skull mask. She finds some other characters who try to help her, but Chromeskull slices through all of them until the girl finally defeats him...or so it seems. Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2 begins just where Laid to Rest ended. The girl (now played by Allison Kyler) rides off with Tommy (Thomas Dekker), the only other survivor. The police (who have been absent throughout the story) finally arrive on the scene, only to be killed by Preston (Brian Austin Green) and his crew. This mysterious group take Chromeskull's weapons and load the killer in an ambulance. We see him whisked about to an operating room where doctors clad in black work to save him. Meanwhile, Tommy takes the girl to a motel, where she is murdered, and Tommy is questioned.

The story then jumps ahead a few months. Chromeskull is now healed and ready to stalk again. He has his sights set on a young blonde named Jess (Mimi Michaels), which is ironic, as Jess is losing her sight and needs an eye operation. Chromeskull abducts Jess, who had been making videos with her friend. An image of the killer shows up on the video and when police detective King (Owain Yeoman) shows it to Tommy, the young man identifies Chromeskull. Now, the police, with Tommy's help, must try to put together clues to find the girl. Meanwhile, Preston is tired of Chromeskull getting all of the action (?!) and he decides to become a killer as well.

So, what's worse, a movie with no story, or a movie with too much story, and a story which doesn't make any sense? Laid to Rest may have bordered on pointless, but at least it was a lean and mean slasher movie which didn't squander the action and gore. Sure, there was no story to get in the way, but there was enough information about the characters to keep the movie from simply becoming gore-porn. (Although, to be honest, the opening where the girl awakens in a coffin in a funeral home set up a creepy Phantasm-like vibe where never came to fruition.)

Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2 goes in the opposite direction. Writer/Director Robert Hall (here getting help from co-writer Kevin Bocarde) clearly wanted to flesh out the story from the first film, and there's nothing wrong with that. But, the idea of Chromeskull working for some clandestine organization is simply ludicrous and non-sensical. In the first film, Chromeskull was given no identity and no motive -- clearly an attempt to make him scary. Here, we learn that he is the boss of a group of killers, but we get no idea why they do what they do or how it is financed. As Chromeskull stalks Jess (again, for reasons unknown), Preston (whose job is vague at best) becomes more and more jealous until he decides to defy Chromeskull and take matters into this own hands. This whole thing is very reminiscent of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, where we learned that Michael Myers did the bidding of an evil cult. That idea didn't work and neither does anything presented in Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2.

Hall has written himself into a corner with this movie and the kinetic energy found in the first film is absent here. Laid to Rest was essentially one long chase scene and the killings would cap off natural peaks in the movie. Much of Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2 comes off feeling like a cheap knockoff of a Saw movie, as we see alternate between seeing Jess held hostage in a warehouse-like setting and the police investigation. The movie nearly grinds to a halt for the murders to occur. While Hall has directed a handful of films now, he's best known for his work in special effects makeup, and Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2 doesn't miss any chance to delve into the gore. It wants to be a throwback to the gore movies of the 80s and while we certainly get some creative and elaborate kills here, they don't justify going out of your way to see the movie.

Given the fact that Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2 exists and the ending of the film, it's clear that someone thinks that Chromeskull should join Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger in the pantheon of classic horror movie killers. However, the character is going to have to appear in a movie better than this to achieve any sort of icon status.

Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2 made me wonder if there really is a $10,000 cell phone on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Image Entertainment. The movie has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc features an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 20 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material. The movie was shot on HD video, so the image features a nice crispness. The picture is a bit dark in places, but the colors look nice and natural. The detail on the image is nicely done, although a few shots are somewhat soft. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are nicely done, most notably when a knife comes in from the edge of the screen. These stabbings are accompanied by a slicing sounds which moves from the front to the center channels. The subwoofer effects are nicely done, as each attack features a low rumbling. The surround sound effects aren't as prevalent, but they work well in some spots.

The Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2 Blu-ray Disc contains a few extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Robert Hall, Co-writer Kevin Bocarde, and Brian Austin Green. "A Cut Above: Creating Chromeskull" (26 minutes) opens with Hall stating "We set out to make a more realistic film." Really? Well, you failed on that front. Anyway, this nicely detailed featurette examines the making of the movie, complete with on-set footage, still photos, and comments from the cast and filmmakers. We learn about the casting, the story, and the production. Not surprisingly, the piece looks at the extensive special-effects makeup work in the film. "Jump to a Kill" allows the viewer to instantly go to any of eight murder scenes. The Disc contains three DELETED SCENES which run about 2 minutes. These are all quite brief and don't introduce any new ideas or characters. We get a 3-minute reel of BLOOPERS. The final extra is the TRAILER for the film.

Review Copyright 2011 by Mike Long