Don’t Kill It (2016)

A demon has taken over the town of Chickory Creek, Mississippi.  As things escalate quickly an FBI agent and a demon hunter arrive in town and are forced to cooperate to save the locals.  As the demon jumps from body to body, they must find a way to stop this demon and not become one with it at the same time.

Written by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen and directed by Mike Mendez, Don’t Kill It is one of those films that sounds like it would just be another generic demon hunter film, but turns out to be a really fun, funny, and entertaining demon hunter film.  The banter or back and forth between the two leads is interesting to watch while the way the demon jumps from person to person while the hunter and the agent are trying to be taken seriously about what is going on and deal with it has a fun comedy/action/horror element to it.  The film is not pure horror even though it deals with a demon.  This demon does not scare like the one in The Exorcist or go all out gross with its victims; it is not a jump scare situation either.  There is plenty of blood here, don’t be mistaken, but the main part of the film that entertains the most is all the mayhem this demon causes including a scene that is, to this reviewer, reminiscent of the barn scene in Dead & Breakfast in terms of action, mayhem, non-sense even, yet making perfect sense in context and advancing the plot while also entertaining the viewer.

The cast of Don’t Kill It is led by Dolph Lundgren in one of his rare horror-centric turns.  Here he starts off feeling a bit off and as the film advances, he gets better and better and more likeable in his part of Jebediah Woodley.  His acting here rests more on his capacity as an actor than his action prowess.  He does shoot guns and fight demons, but he doesn’t display his usual fighting and skull cracking.  His acting is good, better than in a few of his recent efforts (I’m looking at you Legendary), and more along the lines of his work in War Pigs in terms of acting.  His capacity to deal with the mayhem and insanity without cracking a smile or losing his focus is something to be mentioned as well.  Playing opposite Lundgren, as his forced partner FBI agent Evelyn Pierce is Kristina Klebe who is quite good here, her part does involve the usual FBI incredulity in the face of demons, but she does pull a few emotional scenes rather well.  The rest of the cast is mostly there to either die or get in their way and they do these with gusto in some cases.  In small but memorable parts, we get to see some of Mike Mendez’ horror director friends Axelle Carolyn and Todd Famer as well as horror regular Elissa Dowling, and even a flashback scene to The Convent with Chaton Anderson making an appearance.  The cast is rather good considering the goofiness of the subject and how it develop, adding to the film’s fun.

Helping all the mayhem seen on screen are the special effects by Robert Kurtzman and his team.  The practical effects in this come out swinging at the start of the film and keep coming back for more with each mayhem scene bringing more and more death and blood and gore.  These effects are great to watch as they are clearly practical and clearly done by someone who loves what they are doing.  On the other hand, the visual effects by Ghazi Ali and Haris Ali are not as good and it shows in the explosion scenes which look like CGI explosions on a low budget unfortunately.  That being said, these are few and don’t detract from appreciating the film.

Don’t Kill It is one of those films some will be weary of being that Lundgren’s previous horror films were not exactly great, from the monster movie Legendary to the shark film Shark Lake, but it’s worth checking out as it’s fun, filled with mayhem, and has decent performances.  For fans of the director, this is the Mike Mendez they know and love, back to his crazy cinematic mayhem reminiscent of The Convent in some ways and Big Ass Spider in others.  This film is for fans of enjoyable horror films who do not need to be scared shitless all the time to enjoy a film and who appreciate a bit of humor with their blood and guts.

In theaters and on VOD on Friday March 3rd.