I still like Dolph Lundgren movies. Except for The Expendables they all go straight to video now, but when they send them to me I still watch them. Some of them turn out to be fun like One in the Chamber and others like Battle of the Damned don’t, but so be it. Don’t Kill It is disappointing because it has the elements of a fun one but botches it along the way.
Jebediah Woodley (Lundgren) is a demon hunter who comes to Chicory Creek, Mississippi when an old demon gets loose. The demon possesses the townspeople and turns them into violent murderers, but whoever kills the possessed gets possessed next. So you see, killing it doesn’t help. Woodley intends to trap it.
Basically, this is a demonic daisy chain like Shocker or Fallen, but with all the blood and gore you can get away with in a low budget horror movie. Even more frustrating, Don’t Kill It makes all the right moves with this premise, but it handles them so clunkily that it’s like Troma without the self-awareness.
There is a crowd scene where ignorant townsfolk keep killing each other only to become possessed themselves. There is a delayed killshot that builds up the transference of the demon. It’s just the film loses any good will it may have had by the time it executes these concepts.
The demon presents with an abrasive high pitched squeal like the film is screaming directly into your ear, so any outrageous kills feel more like gratuitous noise than macabre wit. Then when you’re supposed to care about possessed family members killing their loved ones, the film doesn’t have the maturity for that kind of gravitas.
There are some good practical gore effects amid some of the rampages, but then there’s some Birdemic level CGI explosion effects that ruin potentially inspired kill scenes.
Lundgren is fun but his charisma isn’t enough to save the film. He has one shining moment where he launches into a long demon hunter spiel while deputies fail to restrain him and he just keeps going. They still give him a lot of exposition after that and it’s not all fun. Kristina Klebe is also good as the FBI agent returning home to investigate, reluctantly having to partner with Woodley.
Don’t Kill It may get the job done as low hanging fruit, and it’s certainly not the worst film to screen at Screamfest. It’s perhaps more disappointing though because the concept has so much potential and it just goes for the easiest, lamest jokes.