What happened to Mike Mendez, or more accurately, to his career? He built a following with quirky and effective films like THE CONVENT and GRAVEDANCERS before directing the film that got him widespread notice BIG ASS SPIDER. But he hasn’t been able to capitalize on Spiders success. His next film, another giant spider film for SyFy LAVALANTULA did well enough to spawn a sequel but without him, then THE LAST HEIST which featured Henry Rollins as a serial killer among hostages in a bank heist gone wrong was dogged with producer interference and he was eventually removed from the film. Now he’s teamed up with Dolph Lundgren for a hyper-violent demon hunter film DON’T KILL IT.
A hunter inadvertently releases an ancient demon that possesses people and animals, turning them into relentless killing machines. However, killing their host makes you the next in line for possession. FBI agent Evelyn Pierce (Kristina Klebe PROXY, HALLOWEEN) is called back to her home town of Chickory Creek Mississippi to investigate the slaughter. Evelyn ends up the unwilling partner of Jebediah Woodley, (Dolph Lundgren UNIVERSAL SOLDIER) whose father died trapping the demon. The two must find a way to stop the demon while avoiding more Earthly threats like the disbelieving Agent Jackson (Billy Slaughter DEMONIC) and Deacon Shepard (Miles Doleac THE HOLLOW) who believe Woodley is the agent of Satan.
Certainly not the most original of ideas, body jumping killers have been in everything from THE HIDDEN to JASON GOES TO HELL:THE FINAL FRIDAY, Lundgren even had an earlier run in with one in THE MINION. It still could have been an excellent film but Mendez manages to blow most of the film’s potential with his staging of several mass killings. The first few killings are taken seriously and are effective give or take some CGI blood. But what should be the films major piece, an epic slaughter at a town meeting with the demon jumping between would be heroes looks like it came from EVIL DEAD 2 or BRAINDEAD. The result is neither scary nor really funny, Mendez is a talented director but he’s no Peter Jackson. Another scene has the possessed flying around like something out of a Chinese wire-fu film again ruining what could have been a great scene. But perhaps worst of all, rather than giving Lundgren the tough guy cliché cigar in his jaw, he vapes. This just looks stupid as hell.
The film isn’t a total disaster, the kills are are played straight, deliver the goods and there’s some good action scenes, but overall the film is a disappointment. It’s certainly better than THE LAST HEIST but it’s not in the league of THE CONVENT let alone BIG ASS SPIDER.
DON’T KILL IT is available now on VOD and select theaters.