Art of the Dead, 2019.
Directed by Rolfe Kanefsky.
Starring Tara Reid, Richard Grieco, Jessica Morris.
When a man purchases a collection of seven paintings to hang in his wealthy estate, he has no idea what horrors he has unleashed for himself and his family.
Art of the Dead is one of the more interesting films I’ve had the chance to review this year. While it is by no means a great film, there’s enough here with its campy tone and gore to keep you through the low moments. This movie is a prime example of understanding your mood and your audience; it plays into the weirdness instead of running away from it. That’s why Art of the Dead works so well, it’s not trying to be anything else than art-filled schlocky horror fun.
As mentioned earlier, what makes the film work is the utter insanity of it. Pushing the pedal to the metal, Art of the Dead doesn’t stop being wild, and that’s refreshing. When making something on a smaller scale like this, you need to make up for any flaws in another department, and the best bet is to go for pure camp. From the gore to the dialogue, it seems like the filmmakers are in on the joke and gleefully trying to make something shocking, so it stays with you. As someone who watches countless horror movies a year, I appreciate that as it will surely make your film stand out among the pack.
Art of the Dead kicks off right a proper insane start as we’re introduced to Richard Grieco’s character and the seven evil paintings. Douglas Winter is excited to show off the pictures to his family, only to find out they are all brutally murdered. He quickly blames the art and goes to shoot them, only to find the painting stole his gun. Yes, the pictures are driving people mad and allegedly killing folks.
From there, it only gets wilder with Tara Reid appearing as a gallery auctioneer, a Dorian Gray homage, and enough sexuality to make you think you are watching a dirty movie. We follow the characters of Gina and Dylan Wilson, two wealthy business owners that come across the paintings. They bring them home where they and their two kids must fight off the evil forces that reside within the art.
Each of the seven paintings represents a different deadly sin (Pride, Lust, Gluttony, Sloth, Greed, Envy, and Wrath), and they begin to destroy the family until a wild priest attempts to save them. The Father Mendale character knows about the paintings from previous encounters, almost making you want to see more of his backstory and less of the current story. It’s a strange film; I tried to warn you.
Something that needs commenting is the fact both Tara Reid and Richard Grieco have committed to making horror their new home. Reid’s work in the genre goes back to 90’s slasher Urban Legend, and Grieco is often directing an indie horror. While many actors start or move to horror out of desperation, it genuinely feels like these two enjoy crafting scares for the audience.
While they don’t have a lot of screen time, there’s an apparent effort to make horror their home, and as a lifelong fan of the genre, it’s refreshing to see. Now, if only they could find a film that’s above a straight to streaming experience like this.
That’s a great way to describe Art of the Dead; it’s a perfect movie to stream late at night. Looking for a cheap horror movie that won’t leave a bad taste in your mouth? This film is right up your alley as knows precisely what to deliver (thrills, gore, and sex) and gives them to you. While there’s higher quality cinema out there, there’s something great about low-budget sleazy horror, and I mean that in the nicest way.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★ ★/ Movie ★ ★ ★