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John’s Horror Corner: Necromentia (2009), basically a D-budget Saw (2004) meets Hellraiser (1987) with very cool ideas and effects, weak filmmaking, and terrible writing.

October 12, 2021


MY CALL:  Really cool ideas and monster effects don’t save this pseudo-anthology from the depths of generally weak filmmaking and writing. As impressed as I was with the monsters, I simply found the film boring. Sorry. I really wanted to like this.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Necromentia: Well, for more body modification horror and/or discount Cenobites, I’d recommend Strangeland (1998), Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993) and No Reason (2010).

A disoriented man (Hagen; Santiago Craig) awakens with a Ouija board scarred into his back and a strange gas-masked Cenobite giving him a hammed-up Jigsaw lecture about his choices and punishment. After the recent passing of his wife, Hagen had preserved her stiffening body in his makeshift, filthy basement mortuary where his daily “maintenance” of her condition flirts with necrophilia. His eventual fate at the hands of yet another undeniably Hellraiser-inspired Cenobite is gruesome, and his dark angel perpetrator looked positively wicked considering the budget of the film!

Travis (Chad Grimes), the man who scarred the Ouija board onto Hagen, had fallen on tough times after the loss of his parents. To care for his disabled younger brother Thomas (Zach Cumer), he runs a scarification business. But while he works, a pig-headed, barb wire fever dream of a demon convinces the boy to commit suicide. Using the dark gifts of necromancy, Travis conjures a demon into a dead man’s body to aid him. But the demon has demands.

The special effects were very good considering budgetary restrictions—although, the effects probably accounted for the lion’s share of money spent. Morbius (Layton Matthews) is poisoned, but takes the life of his murderer before succumbing to a massively gruesome, skull-cracking face-smashing. Scenes of body modification and on-screen torture are also graphic, but not unbearably brutal. We find bondage, sheers severing fingers, oral surgery devices, some disembowelment… it’s like Marylin Manson’s wet dream of the 90s.

The weakest component of this film is the dialogue. When demons speak, they speak the lines you’d expect a twelve-year-old to write; it’s the stuff of 80s comic books with horror flare. Unfortunately, it really diminished the gravity otherwise cultivated by the macabre visuals and tactfully dreary sets.

Advertised as Saw (2004) meets Hellraiser (1987), I feel somewhat conflicted. If I simply agree, then people will get excited to watch this with very high expectations. If I disagree, then I’d also be denying the obvious and frequent concepts inspired by those films and brandished proudly on-screen. Perhaps this is more like Saw (2004) meets Hellraiser (1987) in the hands of inferior filmmakers (sorry, not sorry) with some really cool ideas.

On a budget of only $300k, director and writer Pearry Reginald Teo (The Gene Generation, The Evil Inside) did a lot with this pseudo-anthology which links the dark fate of several people to a ritualistic necromantic wounding. For all the provocative imagery and gore, I just never really cared what happened. This was really rather boring for something so macabre. Great ideals, great vision, but much more in terms of execution is left to be desired. Sigh… oh well. I’m glad I gave it a try. This film tried its best.

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