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Don't Kill It (Movie Review)

Don't Kill It (Movie Review)
03.02.2017by: Jake Dee
5 10

PLOT: When the small town of Chickory Creek, Mississippi is suddenly befouled by a grisly demonic scourge, the townsfolk recruit the help of Jebediah Woodley (Dolph Lundgren) – demon hunter extraordinaire!

REVIEW: Swedish action import Dolph Lundgren has spent the last 30 years carving such a well-catered-to niche in the world of B-grade combat cinema, not without a few noted tussles with outright horror villains mind you, that his films really ought to be compared to themselves at this point. It only seems fair, given they’re often of a certain size and scope. Well, now nearing 85 screen credits and 60 years of age, Dolph shows no signs of slowing down when forced to face off with an uncouth legion of dark-eyed demons in Mike Mendez’s tepid new horror flick DON’T KILL IT. Unfortunately, the movie can’t keep up with Dolph’s domineering demeanor, nor provide his compelling character with the requisite story or credible scenarios to make the movie all that memorable. Even with its explosive mist of gore lethally splayed throughout, DON’T KILL IT can’t quite sustain itself with enough lasting life.

Christmastime. Three triple homicides have disrupted the small town of Chickory Creek, Mississippi. A grue-sodden pre-title sequence kicks the flick off, as we see a husky camouflaged hunter with dead-black eyeballs walk into a pair of houses and, with his rifle, gorily decimate a handful of inhabitants. Clearly under some sort of demonic spell, the exact same thing happens to another family across town. Same demon, different host. Enter FBI agent Evelyn Pierce (Kristina Klebe), who has the unenviable task of figuring out what the hell is going on in her quaint little hamlet. For help, she reluctantly turns to recently arrived Jebediah Woodley (Lundgren), a gruff and grizzled demon hunter, adorned in tatters, armed only with a laconic wit, a four-pronged net-gun and his trusty corncob vaporizer. This badass Woodley has seen it all, knows intimately the ins and outs of demonic lore, and knows specifically how to fight and rid the evil entities accordingly. After convincing agent Pierce and the local sheriff that he’s legit, they team up with aims to put an end to the inimical scourge for good.

One of their first tests together comes at night in the woods, right after Jeb’s Wagoneer breaks down. A black-orbed demon comes rushing out from the brush, trades gunfire with our two leads before it is forced back into the foliage. Now stranded, we get saddled with exposition and back-story about fallen angels and Easter curses that reveal agent Pierce to part of the demonic bloodline in Chickory Creek. This is where we’re meant, as an audience, to emotionally invest in the characters, yet despite some sincere acting from both Klebe and Lundgren, the script by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen (BODY) is too fallow and shallow to warrant such earnest concerns. And while I appreciated the stint where Jeb differentiates between demonic entities – how some are wholly subsume, others only partially or impermanently – the mythos can never really match the emotion needed for us to feel for the characters. To wit, none of the demons are very scary, as they’re only set apart from humans by the mere CG blackening of eyeballs. Somewhere, Lamberto Bava must be rolling his own!

But the lack of fright doesn’t necessarily equate to a lack of gore. Bloodhounds beware, there are a few sincerely gruesome stints of eruptive violence here, albeit accompanied with an abundance of fake-looking CG blood (to be fair, there's quite a bit of practical FX as well). There’s one instance where a demon rolls into a town hall meeting, locks the door, unleashes a cavalcade of weaponry – guns, blades, axes, chainsaws, etc. – and proceeds to viciously waylay the entire room until viscous puddles of blood dampen the floor. If nothing else, it’s a pretty cool sequence sure to sate one’s graphic bloodlust. Thing is, there’s no emotional sway to counterbalance the action. It means nothing, having no sentimental consequence. And so, it can be amusing to look at, likely most optimally with a large inebriated crowd, but little else. There’s also a mildly cartoonish tone to most of the violence that also tends to render it unbelievably silly. Worse, every demonic attack comes equipped with god-awfully shrill shrieks of prolonged screaming, an annoyance I tried to, but simply cannot, let go unmentioned.

In a vacuum, DON’T KILL IT cannot be seen as a very good movie. It’s only when stacking it up against the wide canvas of substandard Dolph Lundgren fare that it can be even remotely be viewed favorably. By that measure, this one kind of splits right down the middle. But even so, while the character of Jebediah Woodley is no doubt a cool one worthy of wanting to see more of in the future (given a better script), this isn’t bound to be considered by a single person as Dolph’s best. Nowhere near it. Not even among his scant horror outings. Sure it’s fun for awhile, has a few standout moments of abject gore and a few salty one-liners, but it’s nowhere near Lundgren’s finest overall hour. Still, for all of the enthused Dolph completists out there, of which there's bound to be many, DON’T KILL IT is likely just barely worth the 80 minutes it’ll take out for a day. For all the rest however, I'm afraid there’s absolutely no reason to kill it if you don’t live it!

Extra Tidbit: DON'T KILL IT drops into select theaters Friday, March 3rd.
Source: AITH

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