When it comes to masks, the simpler, the more iconic. This is why Michaels Myers's featureless white mask is so effective. And Jason's is simpler still. Chromeskull's mask is flashier and more elaborate, but the design is straightforward: a skull-the universal symbol of death, polished to a high shine so his victims can see their own reflections as they die.
Chromeskull's weapons are two huge, vicious-looking knives with fingerguards and wicked serrated teeth. They too are polished and shiny, glinting in the dark against the backdrop of Mr. Skull's classy black suit. Chromeskull gets more than a few creative kills out of those versatile knives, and the violence is way more intense and graphic than practically any 80's slasher. The special effects are top-notch and the gore is copious. Nearly every kill had me shouting, "That was so cool," at the screen.
Glorious kills aside, where Laid to Rest really shines is in its simultaneous adherence to and departure from slasher film conventions. Robert Hall takes a page out of John Carpenter's book and reveals no motive for the murders, keeping his killer silent and mysterious. There's a sort of "slasher purity" to the film that makes it work so well. There's no real plot to speak of, and it starts off scary and rarely lets up.
Where it departs from convention is in the characters. Rather than an obnoxious group of partying teenagers, Laid to Rest begins with a single woman trapped in a coffin who has amnesia and possibly brain damage. After her initial escape from Chromeskull, she hitches a ride with a big, tough-looking, bald dude who turns out to be the nicest, most endearing character in the film. He takes on the role of her protector and brings her home to his wife, played by the always fantastic Lena Heady, who comes off as gruff and abrasive, but quickly shows her kinder side. The couple are hicks, but Hall doesn't turn them into stereotypes who exist only to be mocked. Because they care about this mysterious young woman, you care about them, which always makes the violence so much more crushing.
While not a perfect film, I was still blown away by it and beyond happy to learn a Robert Hall-helmed sequel is in the works. This is one franchise I'd like to see get huge.
But I do wonder how much of my excitement was due to having "discovered" the film on my own. I had never heard of it-just picked it up on a whim at the pawn shop because Lena Heady was listed in the credits. I'd like to know what you think-am I overblowing this thing, or is it really as good as I thought. Seriously y'all, blow up the comments section on this one.