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Saturday, May 7, 2016

CRUSH THE SKULL -- DVD Review by Porfle

Remember that time you broke into a house to rob it, and the house turned out to be an inescapable death trap built by a homicidal maniac?  Well, the very same thing happens to the protagonists in first-time feature director Viet Nguyen's CRUSH THE SKULL (2015), only this time you get to kick back and watch THEM have to deal with it.

Ollie (co-scripter Chris Dinh) and Blair (Katie Savoy) are a very nice young couple who just happen to be professional burglars, and they're looking to make one last big score so they can pay their debt to a scary loan shark and retire. 

Unfortunately, as explained above, they choose the way-way-wrong house, resulting in hours of blood, terror, horror, and getting killed for them and/or their equally hapless associates and fellow captives. 

I didn't expect much from this premise beyond your average time-waster, so I was in for a big surprise when it turned out to be one of the sharpest, funniest, and most delightfully quirky horror flicks I've seen in recent years.  In addition, of course, to delivering a heaping helping of tense, nail-biting suspense and some genuine chills.

Despite being criminals, Ollie and Blair are very likable and you really feel for them in their predicament. I love the running gag of humor-challenged Ollie always bungling a joke and then Blair translating it into "funny" for him.

Ollie's prickly relationship with Blair's brother Connor (Chris Riedell) and his addlebrained toady Riley (Tim Chiou), both of whom fancy themselves master criminals despite being totally inept, is also played with delightful deadpan humor. 

The punchy interaction between the four leads is what helps make the early scenes of the film so entertaining while making us feel for these characters when their situation becomes shockingly dire.

Lauren Reeder plays Vivian, a caged woman who claims to have already been held captive for weeks.  Walter Michael Bost (IMMORTAL) is the relentlessly menacing killer. 

The scenes inside the maze-like basement of the killer's house and its various dungeons are nightmarish even while shot through with moments of giddy humor.  With constant close calls and harrowing escape attempts, we're kept on edge every moment right up until the final blackout in which the film's title is driven home like the definitive thunk of a guillotine blade. 

The DVD from Breaking Glass Pictures is in 1.78:1 widescreen with Dolby 5.1 sound and closed captions.  Extras include trailers for this and other Breaking Glass releases, a photo gallery, a behind-the-scenes featurette, and, best of all, three very fun short films starring Chris Dinh including two variations on the "crush the skull" theme. 

Creative and clever, CRUSH THE SKULL takes a simple idea, a terrific cast, and a very modest budget and blends them into a crackling spook house thriller that actually makes you feel good about watching it instead of bummed out for a week and a half. 

Buy it at

Starting May 17 CRUSH THE SKULL will be available on the following platforms: iTunes, Amazon Instant, Blockbuster, Google Play, Xbox, PlayStation, Vudu, and Cable On Demand.


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