‘Don’t Kill It’ Review: Dolph Lundgren and a Demon Have a B-Movie Battle Royale

     March 3, 2017

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Don’t Kill It is one of those movies you’re either going to like or you’re not, and which side of that line you’ll fall on should be pretty obvious. Does Dolph Lundgren fighting demons sound awesome to you? If the answer’s no, just scoot right along because this movie doesn’t have hidden depths beyond the promise of its basic premise. If the answer is yes, then strap in for a good time because Don’t Kill It is a movie that knows exactly what wavelength it’s on, and rides it rides it right into a ridiculous, entertaining bloodbath.

Don’t Kill It sets the stage with a gruesome murder spree. A hunter discovers a mysterious relic in the woods and promptly returns home, his eyes slicked over like black oil pools, to murder his wife and son. Then he moves on to the neighbor’s house where the bloodshed continues, and he uses anything in his path – butchers knives and boiling water – to kill the family next door. Until the father shows up and shoots him in the head, narrowly saving his daughter’s life. A beat passes; the father’s eyes slick to black, he emits an inhuman wail, and he turns the gun on his own screaming daughter.

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Image via Archstone Distribution

Such is the nature of the demon, passing from victim to victim, inhabiting the body of whoever kills its previous host. You kill the demon, you become the demon. So yeah, don’t kill it. It’s a clever setup, somewhere between a feature length Supernatural episode and Fallen, but without the trappings of a classy thriller. Instead, Don’t Kill It exploits the premise for all the video nasty bloodshed it’s worth with a string of absolutely wild massacres where the demon jumps from body to body through the constant torrents of blood. The effects may not be photorealistic, but they are an absolute delight of practical low-budget splatter work; sometimes played for the wince, sometimes for the laugh.

B-Movie to the bone, Don’t Kill It pairs Big Ass Spider! director Mike Mendez with Swedish action import and DTV champ Dolph Lundgren, both of whom know their way around camp cinema. But Lundgren rarely gets to have so much fun and his films rarely have so much fun with his persona. As Jedediah Woodley, our strapping, demon-hunting hero who’s not quite a hero, the actor’s signature goliath statue and grimacing tough guy act are repurposed to hilarious effect.

Woodley is a classic gunslinger, a demon hunter with a dark past and the lone voice of reason in a small Mississippi town  – except, he’s never quite as cool as he thinks he is and, but for the fact that he’s the only guy who knows what’s really going on, he causes more problems than he solves.  He looks the part; a towering physical specimen in a worn-in leather trench coat who manhandles jackasses at the bar, but he’s also kind of a doofus, a bit of a baltherer prone to monologing, chugging on gigantic vape during dramatic pauses and taking shots but always kind of missing the mark.

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Image via Archstone Distribution

He gets the girl in classic hero fashion, except she’s a hooker and he just wasn’t smart enough to realize it. At one point, he talks a father into killing his demon-infested daughter and drinking poison to commit suicide – the only sure way to stop the demon in its tracks – but the plan goes awry and the man dies before completing his task. Woodley, honestly, could give a fuck. It doesn’t even seem to occur to him that he just cost an innocent man his life. Mendez works in beats of twisted comedy throughout the film, always taking his macho-man hero down a peg.

Don’t Kill It strikes a perfect tone for this sort of fare – it fully knows how silly it is, and it revels in it, but it also steers clear of pithy self-awareness. The film isn’t without its flaws. It slips into a bit of a lull as the second act falls into exposition and backstory, and Lundgren’s southern accent is a mangled thing of hideous beauty. But Mendez keeps lobbing kills and laughs at the audience with such regularity that there’s never enough time to take much issue with the film’s lesser points. Plus, if a movie is smart enough not to take itself too seriously, you’d to well to follow suit. Mendez and Lundgren are obviously having so much fun, you can’t help but want to join in. Don’t Kill It is a cheeky camp parade with buckets of low-rent charm, and for fans of camp cinema and Lundgren’s B-Movie fare, Don’t Kill It will fit like slipping into something cozy and familiar with a few surprises along the way.

Rating: B-

Don’t Kill It is currently available on VOD

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