Film Review: Knights of Badassdom (2013)

Tell me if you’ve heard of this plot before: a nice, main character looking guy loses what he thought was the love of his life due to her breaking up with him because she presumes he’s a loser going nowhere with his life, which leads his close buddies to take him on some odd activity out of his comfort zone. Well, if you have, you’ve roughly heard the plot of the first half of Knights of Badassdom. And if not, I don’t believe you’ve seen very many films.
In this case, Ryan Kwanten’s Joe loses his girlfriend right as he’s ready to propose, so his friends Eric and Hung get him thoroughly trashed and decide to take him along to their newest LARPing session in an attempt to cheer him. Where the film gets a smack in the bum from the originality stick is what happens next. Steve Zahn’s Eric, in an attempt to level up his sorcerer character, reads an incantation from a very Necronomicon-esque tome, thinking it’s just another role-playing piece of fiction, accidentally summons a bloodthirsty demon from hell. Now, these three must fight for their lives against a ferocious, mythical creature… for real.

What Works:
You can see a lot of care went into the film, and it seemed like a project that the majority of the actors had fun with. I found it refreshing that it showed the public perception of LARPing but doesn’t talk down to/about it for long besides the cursory joke here and there. As can be expected, especially if you’ve seen him in other comedic roles, Peter Dinklage is a lot of fun, and Summer Glau is given opportunity to enjoy herself and show off her comedic side rather than the serious-faced buttkickers she’s normally known for. For better or worse, it’s a genre/niche film, with practical effects taking the priority for a majority of the film over CGI, and a very metal oriented soundtrack, the film likely will not have a massive mainstream appeal, but could easily become a cult classic. Speaking of which, the film has rather great practical FX, especially the animatronic demon at the end. With clever camera tricks and prop manipulation, the creature seemed both real, and towering over the cast.

Oh, this isn’t a picture of the film, just how Zahn and Dinklage like to party every weekend.

What Doesn’t:
Though this film has a lot of things I love, it’s still not perfect. Barely enough time is spent with the characters to get properly invested. Besides their enjoyment of beer, babes, and fantasy related activities like LARPing and Dungeons and Dragons, the main group of friends are pretty shallow, depth-wise. Also, the jokes are a bit repetitive and could’ve used a little variety. A lesson to screenwriters out there in the industry: a joke about bodily fluids and stuck pages is funny once, if you’re lucky, but repeating it diminishes the humor. Remember how I said the practical FX were great, while they were on screen and dominant over the CGI? Well, the CGI did have a presence in the remainder of FX driven scenes, and in short, the CGI was sloppy, painfully at times. But with the budget constraints the film faced, I’m not going to hold that too harshly against the creative team.

Final Score:
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This film has a ton of flaws, I won’t lie. But if you’re a fan of goofy horror like Evil Dead 2 or Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil, I think you’ll really enjoy this film. Well worth a rental on Amazon and sitdown with some buddies.

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