I tried, but Netflix doesn’t have a single movie with killer mummies or evil genies. Oh well. Instead, here’s Dolph Lundgren: Vaping Demon Hunter.
At first glance, you might think you’ve stumbled onto a rerun from the first couple seasons of ‘Supernatural’. A demon skulks its way through some hopelessly remote speck on the map. The possessed’s eyes roll over black. Everyone in sight is mercilessly slaughtered until it’s time to hop to the next meat-sack of a host. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Heck, there’s even a hunter in hot pursuit whose family has been taking down demons for generations.
Here’s the thing, though: Jebediah Woodley (Dolph Lundgren) is down here in Mississippi hunting this particular demon, yeah, but he has no intention of actually taking the killshot. That’s how this hellspawned contagion spreads. You see your best friend, your wife, or even one of your own kids systematically murdering your family. You summon the strength to pull the trigger and put an end to this madness, and suddenly you yourself are possessed and continue the killing spree.
In a tightknit community where 1) nobody locks their doors, and 2) there’s pretty much always a rifle or revolver within arm’s reach, inside a week there won’t be anyone left alive to possess. Hence the title: ‘Don’t Kill It’.
As premises go, “body-hopping monster you shouldn’t kill” is awfully brilliant. That’s doubly true when it’s realized by director Mike Mendez. If you’ve ever witnessed the awe and glory of Mendez’ ‘The Convent’, you’ll have a pretty good idea what to expect from this sopping-with-splatter action/horror/comedy mash-up. The nature of the demon lends itself to huge, frantic set-pieces with colossal body counts and deliriously over-the-top gore. The demonic possession switch flips instantly, keeping the mayhem screaming along at a breakneck pace. Woodley arms himself with a net launcher for a non-fatal takedown, but this walking woodchipper of a demon cycles through so many hosts at such a rapid clip that our hero can’t keep track of where to aim.
The movie only has a handful of these gonzo sequences, but all the stuff in between still manages to be a whole lot of fun thanks to Dolph Lundgren. The sight of a demon hunter vaping away is a guaranteed laugh. Lundgren’s dry comedic delivery frequently had me cracking me up, especially with his take on a Southern drawl. Movies like this are required by law to throw in a will-they/won’t-they romantic angle with a reluctant partner. Pairing the once-and-future He-Man with an FBI-agent-slash-hometown-girl nicknamed Evil-Lyn (Kristina Klebe) set my heart aflutter. Thrill to a montage of Woodley rattling off all the different varieties of demons he’s squared off against. I mean, before the counter’s even ticked to the ten minute mark, there’s demon hooker sex with hyper-colorful lighting straight out of the Dario Argento playbook.
Even with all that, the pacing can still be uneven. The movie’s ambition far, far outstrips its effects budget, not that the splatter throughout ‘Don’t Kill It’ has to be convincing to be a blast. The bleak, joyless pre-credits slaughter tonally feels like it belongs to an entirely different movie. Still, the hope of stumbling across something like ‘Don’t Kill It’ is why I write this column. It’s ridiculous, it’s inventive, it’s thrilling, it’s hysterical, and it’s right there on Netflix waiting for you.