More a comedy thriller with some slasher elements, Crush the Skull is funnier and more heart-filled than it has any right to be, and was a pleasant surprise for Day 5 of my horror-thon.
Populated by a cast of unknowns, it looked like it was going to be a schlocky risk, a distraction, an ‘easy’ watch that I didn’t have to pay much attention to. But the main four characters’ chemistry is engagingly sweet, and their comic timing so on point that I laughed out loud on several occasions – and there’s even some character development to boot. All in a brisk 90 minutes, that is so well-placed and efficiently driven by its own plot that you almost forget that this was clearly made on a shoestring budget (almost all of the kills happen offscreen).
The story is thus: professional burglar Ollie (Chris Dinh, who co-wrote with director Viet Nguyen) must take up a random job sourced by the brother of his girlfriend Blair (Katie Savoy) as part payment for being bailed out of jail by a powerful gangster. When the couple, her brother Connor (Chris Riedell) and his ‘crew’ Riley (the wonderfully endearing, scene-stealing Tim Chiou), get inside the marked house, the strangely bulletproof windows and a stack of snuff tapes tip off the quartet that something’s not quite right about this house. Panicking after hearing some noise, the four rush down to the basement, where things only get creepier.
For a movie that mostly takes place in one set, the action felt fresh enough, and the charm of the four leads made me feel like this was a bigger movie than it was. Gorehounds will find very little here, so watch it for the genuinely funny comedy instead.