No stranger to mashing up blood soaked horror with wacky humor, director Mike Mendez returns with his latest horror comedy. Set in a small Mississippi town, an ancient demon is released to terrorize the citizens. A string of brutal murders left in its wake not only attracts the attention of the FBI, but grizzled demon hunter Jebediah Woodley. Oh, have I mentioned that Jebediah Woodley is played by Dolph Lundgren? Yup. Thought that might catch your attention.
In truth, the entire lure of Don’t Kill It lies with its casting of Dolph Lundgren in the lead. His take on smartass, booze loving, cowboy gear wearing demon hunter is a spectacle. Playing up the character for laughs, Don’t Kill It soars when Lundgren is allowed to play with his role. An early scene that sees him teach an unruly bar patron a lesson on consent is worth admission price alone. Once it’s time to buckle down and get serious about catching the demon, however, the film loses just a little of that silly horror comedy that separates this film from standard SyFy fare.
Because, aside from Lundgren’s casting, that’s essentially what this is. There are a few creature effects by Robert Kurtzman’s (Evil Dead II) Creature Corps, but the main antagonist is simply the screaming human of whoever the demon happens to be in possession of at the time, just with blackened eyes. It’s a logical choice, considering the demon hops into the body of whoever killed his last host, but it is a little disappointed that with Kurtzman’s company behind the creature effects there wasn’t a little more to the demon’s design.
As far as plot goes, well, there’s not much to it. It’s simply a demon on the loose, rampaging through the town and leaving a massive heap of dismembered limbs and bodies in its wake while Jebediah Woodley and his straight-laced FBI partner, played by frequent Mendez collaborator Kristina Klebe, remain on step behind. There’s a bit more involving the demon’s goal, but again it’s something that feels rehashed from a previous SyFy original movie or an old episode of Supernatural. Even the final shot seems like a hokey set up for an off the wall sequel, though it at least seems indicative that the antagonist would make for a more entertaining foil for old Jebediah Woodley.
Mendez is an able director, especially in his niche of goofy horror comedies. He handles the gory violence with glee, and introduces brilliant comedic touches, such as making Woodley’s character use a vape pen. The issue is that he’s bound by a screenplay that he didn’t write, therefore doesn’t quite go off the rails as he would in his own stories.
The end result is a Syfy original film best enjoyed by the midnight crowd. An ok production with an ok story and a boring villain that’s largely elevated by Dolph Lundgren’s hilarious turn as the humorous yet badass demon hunter. It’s a different type of role for Lundgren; one that’s evident he’s having just as much fun as we are watching him. And that’s really the only reason to watch this. The world can always use more Dolph Lundgren, anyway.
Don’t Kill It made its world premiere at Fantastic Fest on September 24, 2016.
Don’t Kill It [FF Review]