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[Fantastic Fest Review] ‘Don’t Kill It’ Gives Dolph Lundgren a Chance to Shine

Don't Kill It Review

Director Mike Mendez has recently made a name for himself making schlock direct-to-DVD horror films, and he’s damn good at it. He has found a formula that works and sticks to it. After 2006’s above-average The Gravedancers, Mendez took a six-year break from directing before returning in 2013 with the pleasant surprise Big Ass Spider! That film was better than it had any right to be, and the fun Mendez was clearly having behind the camera showed on screen. After 2015’s Lavalantula, Mendez returns with Don’t Kill It, a possession thriller starring Dolph Lundgren(!) as a demon slayer(!!). It’s pretty awesome. 

Don’t Kill It plays like a B-movie version of Fallen, but without the class of that latter film (that’s a compliment). The film centers around a demon that possesses those that kill its previous host. Once in a fresh body, the demon moves through a small Mississippi town leaving scores of dismembered bodies in its wake. On its trail is Jebediah Woodley (Lundgren), a vaping, boozy demon hunter who has a history with the demon. He teams up with tough-as-nails FBI Agent Evelyn Pierce (genre darling Kristina Klebe) to attempt to find a way to stop the demon without killing it (hence the title of the film).

[Related] FULL Fantastic Fest Coverage on Bloody Disgusting

Lundgren is clearly having a blast here. He has impeccable comedic timing and is really in his element as Jebediah Woodley. Who knew that Lundgren was such a comedian? There were some moments in the film that had to have been improvised, and they’re such treats to watch (one sequence of physical comedy in which the police are trying to drag Lundgren out of the police chief’s office had the audience in stitches). Klebe is serviceable as Pierce but she is stuck playing the Felix Ungar to Lundgren’s Oscar Madison. Woodley needs a foil but Pierce spends the first half of the film being a stick in the mud. One wishes that she was given more to do.

Screenwriters Dan Berk and Robert Olsen (who wrote last year’s Body together) get a lot of mileage out of their gimmicky villain. The 93-minute runtime prevents its schtick from getting old and Mendez gets to employ some really creepy (and funny) sequences with the demon. It’s signature screech that it employs when going on a rampage grows silly after a while, but those first few scenes send chills up the spine.

Unfortunately the film peaks early, with a town hall massacre that rivals Kingsman: The Secret Service‘s church fight scene in terms of spilled blood. That scene is so fantastically entertaining that nothing that comes after it is able to measure up to it. In fact, Don’t Kill It loses so much of the humor in the final act that it ends up hurting the film. That being said, the film never ceases to entertain even when it gets bogged down in its own mythology.

Don’t Kill It has its tongue planted firmly in cheek and doesn’t pretend to be anything it isn’t. While it will no doubt be headed straight to DVD like so many of Mendez’s other films, it’s definitely worth checking out for Lundgren’s performance alone. Don’t Kill It is the epitome of a popcorn film and should be seen on a Saturday night with lots of drinks and plenty of friends. You’re pretty much guaranteed to have a blast.



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COMMENTS

10 Comments
  • Matt

    Definitely a must see. I always thought Dolph Lundgren should have been a bigger star than he is.

    • Karl-Göran Gustavson

      If memory serves me right, he stated in a (Swedish) interview that he did not want to become too big. Hence the role selections. He got enough from the small roles and the movies he directed. Mostly to protect his family from the fame if he got too big. Bullshit or not, No clue, but I stil love the guy 🙂

  • Randy Moses

    Sounds good! Gravedancers, Bid Ass Spider, and Lavalantula were all fun films. Dolph can deliver with the right material. He was the only part of Johnny Mnemonic that I liked. I was just thinking the other day, that someone should cast him in a TV role.

    • Weresmurf

      He’s got a significant role in Arrow season 5 apparently.

      • Daniel Baldwin

        Yep. He’s apparently the big baddie for this season’s Russia-set flashback arc.

  • Recently saw Body on Shudder and loved it. The script was smart, twisty, and loaded with fun bitchy dialogue. Curious what these writers have cooked up now. And I’ve loved Mendez since The Convent, so I’m looking forward to checking this out.

  • tbaio

    Looks fun!

  • diapers

    Well, good for Dolph. You know, I Come In Peace has a bunch of lower key comedy and he did well there. I did watch that freakin shark film he was in recently… no bueno.

    • Dirty Frank

      Dolph is one of those guys who’s been successful but is way more talented and deserves more success than a lot of the actors who’ve done “better” than he has. He’s always had the comedy chops alongside the drama; when he’s got the right material he can really shine. I Come in Peace was called Dark Angel in the U.K. and it’s a movie I still love. It’s one of his that show he really had the chops to be a bigger actor in better movies than he was given. The guy is gold. And I can’t wait to see this one, it looks great fun – Big Ass Spider was indeed way more fun than it had any right to be so this film directed by the guy who achieved that, with Dolph firing on all cylinders? That has got to be great.

  • Pooru

    I think people are really overhyping and overestimating Dolph’s acting ability… nonetheless I will see this.

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