Although I’ve been reviewing films for many years now, it is still extremely difficult, at times, to get my hands on new material to review. Sure, I have an ever-growing personal collection of horror and genre films, but in order to stay on top of the game, it is important to constantly be reviewing new movies as they are released. Fortunately for me, my reviews do manage to reach some filmmakers, making it a real treat when I am approached to watch and share my thoughts on a particular project. The latest I’ve had the opportunity to check out is Rolfe Kanefsky’s aptly titled Art of the Dead.
After winning an auction for a collection of infamous paintings, the Wilson family is subject to unspeakable horrors, as they are corrupted by the seven deadly sins.
When I was approached to review Art of the Dead, I had no idea what I was being presented. I gave the trailer a quick watch and decided I was down to give it a fair shot. After giving it that fair shot, I can rightfully say that it was most definitely worth my time!
Art of the Dead is one of the most original horror films I’ve seen in a very long time. The story may sound silly on paper — a collection of art pieces that possess supernatural powers consume whoever comes in contact with them — but I can assure you that there are many things done right throughout the film’s 97 minutes.
Writer and director, Rolfe Kanefsky, is no stranger to mixing different genres together to get a successful final product. I am only familiar with his film There’s Nothing Out There, but between that 1991 and this 2019 one, it is clear to see that the man is willing to take risks. Lucky for him, and his viewers, they just happen to work out.
Kanefsky and his team managed to gather a talented group of performers to carry out the roles of our main characters. While some did better than others with their respective portrayals of members of the Wilson family, I was still highly impressed all the way through. Ironically, the biggest name in this film, Tara Reid, was probably the worst of the bunch. That isn’t to say she did bad at all; She was fine in the little screen time she was given.
It was really fun to watch the characters go from their ordinary, every day lives, to the more macabre goings on of their altered and ‘consumed’ selves.
There are seven paintings in total, each one representing one of the Bible’s deadly sins — greed, envy, gluttony, lust, sloth, pride, and wrath. As each family member falls victim to the hypnotizing effect the paintings have, a new version of them comes to light, so to speak.
The patriarch of the family, Dylan Wilson, played by Lukas Hassel, goes from the environment-conscience business man to a slimy, money-hungry toad thanks to the painting representing greed; His wife, Gina, portrayed by Jessica Morris (Evil Bong 777), goes from loving and supporting wife to insatiable nymphomaniac all thanks to the seductive goat in the lust painting.
All members of the Wilson family are consumed in similar ways, but my favorite of all comes in the form of Donna (Cynthia Aileen Strahan). Strahan’s Donna starts off as the awkward and quirky teen-aged daughter of the family, but is soon taken over completely by envy. Her transformation is the most drastic and it is amazing to see her performance on both sides of the spectrum. She also happens to commit some of the most heinous acts of violence that Art of the Dead has to offer.
Perhaps that is where the best parts of Art of the Dead come in. While there are some slower parts in the middle portion of the film, the random spurts of graphic violence more than make up for those pacing hiccups.
All depicted through practical special effects means, sliced throats, severed heads, and more, all look extremely realistic, bumping Art of the Dead up a few more notches still on the ‘effective horror’ meter.
On top of that, as the film progresses, the paintings, created and cursed by their original artist, Dorian Wilde, brilliantly portrayed by Danny Tesla, begin to come to life. As they do, we are treated to some seriously creepy looking creatures. The gluttonous pig, the sloth-representing snails, and especially the lustful demon goat, all look fantastically sinister as they terrorize their victims.
Art of the Dead at Home
While I was presented with a private screener link for the film, I do know that Art of the Dead is available now on DVD from ITN Distribution. I am not sure if there are any special features available, but I’d love to officially add this one to my collection to find out.
It would be a real treat to see some behind-the-scenes features on the work that has gone into the myriad of special effects, and I’d love to learn more about Clint Carney, the man behind the gorgeous paintings used throughout the film.
Combining elements of fantasy, science fiction, dark comedy, and of course religion, Art of the Dead is a highly original and inventive story. It features a talented cast, very impressive practical effects, and enough gore to please even the most jaded horror fanatic.
There are moments that can be considered cheesy, but the same can be said for almost any horror film worth its salt. Overall, Art of the Dead is a great time, and I highly recommend it for you fans looking for something fresh and new in genre films. It plays out like a modern day Twilight Zone episode at times, and I couldn’t be happier about that.
Be sure to check this one out as I give it 4 deadly sins out of .