RIP: Rest in Pieces (2020)

Rating: D+

Dir: Dustin Mills
Star: Kayla Elizabeth, Dave Parker, Wes Allen, Josh Eal

This has aspirations to be more than the usual slasher. Unfortunately, it isn’t able to deliver on this, and ends up being little beyond a bunch of people being stalked around a deserted location by an unkillable maniac. At least the reason they are there is different from the usual “weekend getaway to a cabin in the woods”. A minion of crime boss Percy Reinhardt (Allen) stashes a package belonging to his employer in an old, abandoned school, but dies before he can provide the precise location. Reinhardt sends five people, all in his debt for one reason or another, into the school disguised as an asbestos removal crew, to find and retrieve his stuff. Seems simple enough.

Except, naturally, it isn’t. For the school is home to deranged caretaker Joe, and his hulking, even more insane bodyguard (top) – the incongruously named Sunny (Eal). They are not happy with their solitude being disturbed, as the search party moves through the decrepit facility, looking for their target. Sunny is soon tearing into (and apart) both the initial group, and some other henchmen sent by Reinhardt to check on progress. It’s up to the dwindling band of survivors, including wise guy Marco (Parker) and corrupt policewoman Aoife (Elizabeth) to figure out how to keep their limbs and skulls intact, deal with Sunny and escape. Ideally, in a way which will not bring down the wrath of Reinhardt upon them, upon exit.

It begins in decent form, introducing us to each of the characters. We get an idea of each of their roles in the organization e.g. one is a “cleaner”, disposing of dead bodies, and eventually, why they owe Reinhardt. There does seem to have been a reasonable amount of thought put into giving them background and personalities. The problem is that this is entirely forgotten, once they enter the school (a nice location, incidentally, for a movie whose budget was reportedly barely into four figures). Instead, we get a lot of slow creeping around poorly-lit corridors, enlivened only intermittently by Sunny’s attacks. These seem quite gory, though the impact is limited both by the subdued lighting, and the questionable decision by Mills to shoot the whole thing in black-and-white. 

This was an entirely baffling choice. It’s not a period piece, set in the forties. It generates no particular atmosphere. Indeed, it feels like the director simply flicked a switch on his video-camera accidentally, and didn’t realize until it came time to edit the picture. For there’s good reason 99% of movies – particularly horror films – are made in colour. If you’re going to buck the trend, you need to have a purpose. If the makers had one here, it’s bafflingly opaque. Another problem is, only a couple of the actors are moderately convincing as criminals. Parker probably comes off best there; with others, it’s more like a laudable effort. In the end, this is just another zero budget slasher, and there are plenty out there already.