As far as “do it yourself” indie gorefests go, Mike Mendez’s Don’t Kill It is townsfolk-slaughtering lunacy. A lofty premise executed on a shoestring budget, ambitious in its want to blow genre fans away. This is a twisted, death-dealing endurance test with blood oozing from every possible opening, no matter how fake said blood looks, feels, or tastes. Writers Dan Berk and Robert Olsen mold a demonic possession story into slasher mayhem, and even convince psycho-Swede Dolph Lundgren to come along for the ride. Screaming ghoulies, a mumbling hero and enough prosthetic limbs to fill a Halloween decoration store – what else do you need? Maybe a few more dollars, but who doesn’t these days?
Lundgren stars as Jebediah Woodley, a traveling demon hunter who ends up in Chickory Creek, Mississippi. It’s here where an age-old tormentor is released from his jar-like tomb, only to begin killing the Chickory natives. How? By possessing civilians one by one, through a transference whenever someone kills the current host. You heard right – you either die at its hand, or become the next vessel. Now you see where the title comes in? Only Woodley knows how to stop the paranormal disease from spreading, with a little help from FBI Agent Evelyn Pierce (Kristina Klebe).
Mendez’s motto echoes my favorite Metallica album title: “Kill ’em all!” You can’t make it five minutes without a string of murders, because apparently the film’s malevolent force gets paid by the corpse? Women, children, the elderly – no one is safe from a gunshot to the dome. Or the swing of an ax. Or a chainsaw to the [insert body part here]. Don’t Kill It is built on the idea of unstoppable chaos, furthered by relentless bloodshed. It’s no psychological thriller or brainy conundrum. Mendez and his practical effects team are here to coat churches in red goo and turn extras into dead weight. If you like your horror with plenty of action, here’s another low-budget option!
Then again, those viewers spoiled by blockbuster productions will have trouble with Don’t Kill It. You’re not getting blended effects with CGI overlays. No post-production corrections. Mendez’s visual grotesqueries are all bullet squibs, bashed-in props and chainsaw blades that don’t even spin. You’ll assume most cadavers were created in a shed outside filming locations, which gives a very schlock-tastic vibe that hearkens back to early slasher years. When studios were still figuring out how to deliver realistic gore, by bludgeoning dummies with a machete during quick-glimpse edits. Mendez opens on family-centric kills inside an otherwise homely kitchen, and ends with a mid-air explosion that desecrates one poor soul. The filler is a mix of viscera, bullets and a non-stop attacks against innocent lives. All brutal, and surprisingly varied by way of dispatching methods.
As for Lundgren, his stumble-talking monster hunter somehow strikes an enjoyable comedic wit. We get a hilariously-placed sex scene (complete with a demon-face hallucination on his companion), plenty of “I told ya so” sass and some real small-town scene chewing that makes Jebediah Woodley an enjoyable hero. Not that rooting against Lundgren is usually fun, but Klebe represents the only other supporting character worth investing in. Shady deacons (Miles Doleac) and talkative government types come and go, while most other characters fall victim to assassinations before we even learn their names. This makes Lundgren’s proficient net-gun shooting and baddie-wranglin’ all the more important. It’s nothing Oscar worthy, but as far as B-movies go, anecdotes and wacky lessons carry Lundgren a lot farther than you’d expect.
If you’re in the mood for some horror violence and don’t mind bargain-bin value, Don’t Kill It is your screamin’ banshee of a slaughterhouse homage. This is for someone who loves “so bad it’s good” B-ness, even though Mike Mendez’s passion is coming form a more earnest place. Don’t invite your one friend who bitches about every horror movie that doesn’t display “realistic” effects – he/she isn’t allowed inside Mendez’s funhouse. Go in guns blazing, and be rewarded by a shallow grave overflowing with bloodied bodies. Mainstream studios just don’t have the balls to make a genre film this nasty. Good thing someone else does!
Don't Kill It is some DIY insanity that leaves more scattered limbs than an overturned Halloween decoration truck.