Friday, March 28, 2014

DVD Review: Everyone Must Die!

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2014
Images from the Internet

Everyone Must Die!
Directed by Steve Rudzinski
Dark Mullet Cinema
Central Keystone Productions
71 minutes, 2012

Quite truthfully, I’ve kind of been hesitating reviewing this. Lately, it just seems that watching films with two or more commentaries is too time consuming. However, I just reviewed another film called Scream Park [HERE] which co-starred Steve Rudzinski, who directed Everyone Must Die! (EMD), and it got me curious. There are also a number of cast members that overlapped these two films.

EMD! takes a new spin on “death comes in threes” as a mysterious serial (or series of serial) killer(s) strikes three small towns at a time, starting in Maine and making his way southwest to “now,” in West Virginia (so much for being almost heaven, eh?).

After a brutal opening (among first killed going to the lead of Scream Park, Wendy Wygant, with one of my fave make-up effects in the film), we are introduced to four friends in the first set piece who would never, ever, ever be seen together in real life, never mind out in the woods on a camping trip. The two guys are the annoying white rap star (Seth Joseph, stealing his scenes) who only speaks in bad rhymes (and dresses in florescent pale reds because his nom d’rap is MC Pink – pronounced Paahnk; he has a CD called Fear of a Pink Planet), a chubby OCD who over enunciates and is extremely exacting. The two women are the backwards baseball cap-wearing social justice feminist with the arm-ring tattoo, and the busty New Ager that is into pseudo-spirituality and tarot. It’s nice that Rudzinski is trying different characters than the standard, but this is really a stretch. What I am proud of Rudzinski, though, is that the couple formation is not what you’re expecting. From the start, though, it doesn’t bode too well for the characters.

After the butchering, the main storyline group (yes, there are two fun opening set pieces) we get to follow to slaughter is a party of seven, again, most non-standard types and yet somewhat familiar. Yes, there’s the football jock who is dumb and obsessed with one of the women in the group, but there is also the guy obsessed with eggs, another equally obsessed with golf (film co-writer Derek Rothermund), and one obsessed with being Student Body President (played by the director). The women include the sexy redhead (Nicole Beattie, looking incredibly different than she did as a goth punk in Scream Park), the rich racist, and the other one who is a grumpy goth whiner (Aleen Isley, who was also on the crew). This cast really works well together. They are also not your standard slim-jim model types, but actually look like human beings (even Beattie, who actually does model). It’s great when you get a troupe dynamic of some sort going.

The motive behind the killings is never given, thankfully, which of course makes a perfect opening for a sequel (or, dare I say it, franchise), which I am happy to see. My theory is that it is all part of a cult, since it’s pretty obvious the assassins are different people (much of the cast filling in for the black Kevlar covered killers).

There is a very strong sense of humor that runs throughout that is quite smart, often in throwaway lines, such as someone commenting that DJ Pink missed out on being the fourth Beastie Boy when he argued that partying was a privilege, not a right. Or, one character is excited about a new video game called Misdemeanor Petty Larceny, where you score points by doing things like kicking over garbage cans. Gotta love it! Even the end credits have a fun moment in the warnings. Oh, and make sure you stay until after the credits, it’s a hoot.

What is also nicely added is some of the wrap-around killings that had nothing to do with the main groups of middle-20s “teenagers” (or, as the director keeps calling them in the commentary, “kids”), but adds some nice kills, more nudity (the prerequisite shower scene), and a large round of laughs, additionally added to by the reading of Dan Christmas (any relation to the late [d. 2000] actor Eric Christmas?).

Despite some pretty badly choreographed fight scenes (even on the commentary they note that the golfer can’t swing a club), the gore is plentiful without being overdone, and the appliances (and even a couple of CGI shots) look good. There is one scene though, where the blood on a sink looks like barbeque sauce, but I’m going to generously give that to them for balance. We get a bit of amble boobage (both figuratively and literally) and lots of ways of meeting the Lord, though sharp items are a favored method. The acting is iffy and over the top at times, such as the news reporter, and the guy who’s sister is offed and seeks revenge who often acting with his eyebrows and body tics; amazingly he has the most credits of the cast on IMDB.

Among the many extras is a decent blooper reel, the film’s trailer, a couple of music videos (especially check out Seth Joseph’s turn as MC Pink), an 22-minute interview short with Rudzinski, Rothermund, and a bunch of the actors, and two commentary tracks, as stated above.

The first track offered (which was recorded second) features Rudzinski, Rothermund, and some of the actors from the interview short. I usually hold that more than two or three people on an audio track is just plain annoying as people talk over each other, it’s hard to distinguish who’s who, and the macho (of all genders) tends to come through, making it just a silly mess. But here they make constructive use of their time, telling filming anecdotes and, even among the kidding around, still manage to stay mostly on point and don’t step on each other, which I believe goes to showing more professionalism, and makes this an interesting and enjoyable track.

The second is just Rudzinski and Rothermund, and amazingly, just these two come across goofier than the troupe on the other, but there is still enough information (yes, we get it, it was hot out during the filming) to keep the information interesting and flowing. In total, between the film and extras, you’re about four hours in.

 EMD! Is essentially an extremely fun genre flick that is well written and takes chances on adding to the canon without stepping all over it. Rudzinski and Rothermund make a great team, and I hope they continue to work together because it’s envelope stretching time and a job well done. Watching this was definitely time well spent.

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