All Superheroes Must Die (Blu-ray / DVD)
Directed by Jason Trost
Distributed by Monster Pictures
Marrying the modern penchant for gritty, realistic superhero flicks and torture-led horror, writer/director Jason Trost brings us a low-budget indie attempt at Super meets Saw with All Superheroes Must Die. Trost himself takes charge of the cast as, well, Charge – one of four superheroes who find themselves waking up in dangerous territory and without their powers, having been abducted by their arch nemesis, the maniacal and explosives-obsessed Rickshaw (Remar).
Taunted via video monitors by their captor, the team are led through a series of deadly situations featuring innocent civilians in peril and heavily armed henchmen looking to maim, disembowel and flambé the now-powerless defenders of virtue. Unfortunately for them, the odds in each situation are stacked heavily against them and they soon find themselves pitted against one another as the hopeless desperation driven by their inability to save the doomed civilians becomes ever more crushing.
All Superheroes Must Die is certainly a valiant effort at doing something a little different on what was obviously an extremely limited budget and schedule, but finds itself treading middle ground in just about every sector throughout. While the cinematography is solid, with some nice lighting offering a consistent comic book-horror feel and confident use of focus, the limited sets and claustrophobic feel come across as more attributed to the lack of resources than the narrative's intentions. Performances across the board are actually quite impressive for a small endeavour such as this, with Remar in particular offering up a sparklingly lively turn as the villainous Rickshaw. The weaker link in the cast is Trost himself, whose attempt at a more serious, solemn approach leads to much dreary mumblecore-ish dialogue delivery and oddly-sighed lines that makes for peculiarly unconvincing line delivery. Which is a shame, as he's clearly putting everything he has into his efforts as Charge, but seems better suited to the kind of near-impenetrable quick-fire ebonics found in his previous comedy effort The FP.
The various traps involved are simple but effective, mostly consisting of people wired up to timed explosives, and the story does have a few good twists and turns to keep it moving for the brief 74-minute runtime, but the simplicity is as marring as it is welcome with little in the way of graphic or impactful violence – once again leaving the film treading middle ground consistently while never quite managing to secure a hold on either of its genre aspirations. Despite the short running time, All Superheros Must Die also finds itself dragging in pace with the inclusion of some black and white flashback sequences that manage to add little that isn't being said amidst the scenes in which they are included. The ending, too, is miserly and flat, letting down what is a decent third act run-up to the (what should be) climactic confrontation with Rickshaw. Ultimately, it's a case of nice try, but no super-cigar – it looks good and plays decently, but doesn't quite offer enough to have you wanting to slap on some spandex and overcome the odds.
Monster Pictures' UK DVD release of All Superheroes Must Die is as solid a presentation as the film could afford given the technical limitations, with a well-represented visual component and strong audio to match. On the special features side of things we have a video introduction with Trost, who gives us a rundown of the adversity of resources faced when making the flick and his intentions with the script and finished product. Besides that, there's the "Cultastrophe Pre-Show" introduction, which sticks a number of utterly bizarre retro trailers in front of the flick and is good for a bemused chuckle (if tonally inconsistent with the film itself). Next up is a Q&A session with Trost taken from the Toronto After Dark film festival, and four episodes of "Blood Beasts", a post-apocalyptic short series created by and starring Trost that makes very little sense and a poor recommendation for your time despite providing the occasional laugh. Finally, the theatrical trailer rounds out the package.
2 1/2 out of 5
2 out of 5