Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2 (2011): Shine On You Crazy Killer
Laid to Rest picks up directly as the last film ends. Survivors "Princess" (now played by Allison Kyler replacing Robert Hall's Ex-wife and ex-star Bobbi sue Luther) and Tommy (Thomas Dekker) have hit the road to an Atlanta hotel where they're hiding out. Preston (Brian Austin Green), Chromeskull's assistant, collects the killer's body and a team begins to work on bringing the slasher back to life. As the cops begin to investigate the case, Preston decides to finish up his boss' work dispatching "Princess" in a scene that would easily answer the Joker's question "You wanna know how I got these scars?" With a first kill under his belt, Preston thinks he should continue Chromeskull's work, but what he doesn't realize is that with the assistance of his other assistant, Spann (Danielle Harris), the slasher has come back bigger and stronger soon selecting a new target. While both killers stack up the bodies, it leads up to an inevitable confrontation between the two, and like Highlanders, there can be only one.
|Lighting Bug director Robert Hall|
meets The Lightning Bug
In preparation for this Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2 review, I re-watched Laid to Rest first to recapture the feeling of the film. While some have criticized Robert Hall's film for its logic problems and general silliness (even myself back in Top Ten Common Complaints of Chromeskull), some for its misogynistic killer, and some because they just don't care for slashers, I have a lot of fun with this film. Not only are the kills gory, graphic, and sudden, something I have a hard time finding in modern horror where torture is king, but the film also featured suspense and well placed humor. There's a scene in Laid to Rest where Chromeskull sighs before dispatching a fellow with his own sawed off shotgun outside of a gas station. That small moment where the killer seems put upon is brilliant and always gives me a well needed laugh to break the tension. I could rattle off a hundred more little things that make Laid to Rest more than a run of the mill standard slasher, but I'm here to talk about the sequel after all.
Where Laid to Rest made its mark on me by being chock full of tiny details for the obsessive slasher fan, Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2 discards the details in favor of grandeur. The first film featured a killer whose motives we never know, whose methods are never explained, and who was a helluva snappy dresser. Laid to Rest 2 attempts to put Chromeskull at the head of a shadowy organization (if not the government, then an agency with unlimited funds and power), tease the audience with a number of big reveals that never come, and allow a cast-member of 90210 to fill Chromeskull's mask. Where the original gained a lot for not explaining, the sequel loses something because the explanations don't make any sense. I assume Hall intends to bring everything together in a third film intended to be a prequel to the first two, but as a fan of the simple stalk and kill of the original, the exposition, especially in the form of Brian Austin Green's wanna-be slasher, struggled to keep my attention.
Lightning Bug was his homage to growing up a marginalized horror kid, and Laid to Rest felt like it could be the movie that kid made. In some ways, it literally was. Laid to Rest 2 feels like the toy-box got opened a little too wide. It could be the money that went into the project. It could be that Hall worked with inexperienced co-writer, Kevin Borcarde, instead of penning the project on his own as usual. Or it could have just been that Hall wanted to make something bigger to prove he could move beyond a personal story or a basic slasher. In no way has Laid to Rest 2 dampened my belief that Robert Hall is one of the strongest voices in modern horror cinema. I will still encourage people to check out all three of his films, and I will await his next project eagerly. Chromeskull may have tarnished Hall a bit, but I still think he's got plenty of reason to shine.
Bugg Rating (Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2)
Bugg Rating (Laid to Rest)