Knights of Badassdom
Two Stars (out of five)
2013. Released by Entertainment One. Running time 86 minutes. Rated R. Has closed captions. Special features behind-the-scenes featurettes and interviews. This was reviewed on DVD on April 5, 2014.

Do I have your attention? Knights of Badassdom is a horror/comedy about a trio of friends played by Steve Zhan (National Security), Ryan Kwanten (True Blood), and Peter Dinklage (Game Of Thrones). They’re a bunch of heavy metal fans and LARPers (live action role players--in their case, in the fantasy/medieval genre) who’re trying to raise their spirits by attending a Ren faire. But instead of raising their spirits, these "whacky" guys wind up raising some actual spirits when a real live demon goes on the hunt for human flesh at the faire. Uh-oh! How many points can you score in the game when the demon is real?! Yuk, yuk!

Something's wrong. Mal and the others should have met us by now. Back in the ‘90s, I attended several Renaissance Faires in the beautiful upstate New York countryside, and there would be times, while at the faire, where I would see somebody completely dressed up in medieval attire standing against the rustic scenery, and for a split second, I’d wonder if I had found myself in the distant past. I’ve often wondered if the late Michael Crichton was inspired in this way to write Timeline, which posited a group of present day historians to fight for their lives in the Dark Ages. Knights of Badassdom turns this idea on its head by having a supernatural threat menace a Ren Faire, to mixed results.

For freedom! And those really great candies, what're they called again? Whatever, you get the idea. LET'S GO BASH SOME HEADS! While the cast, which also includes Summer Glau from Firefly, is superb, the film’s direction seems very unsure and shaky for the most part. The movie tries very hard to be a great ’geeky’ comedy in the same vein as Galaxy Quest. But as funny as GQ was, it still paid attention to characterization; all of the characters were very well defined, and that’s the main problem with KOB: lifeless characters. Just like how you must care for the characters in a horror film in order for it to be scary, comedy works pretty much the same way.

Wait, isn't that a dragon? I thought they weren't supposed to be seen until the fourth season! The comedy falls flat when you don’t care about the people onscreen, which was how it was for me while watching this. I thought the film was amusing at some points, but whatever mild humor I got from this just wasn’t enough to carry the film for me, and I became bored midway through (and KOB’s running time is less than 90 minutes!) Despite the presence of a great cast of actors, and the sturdy efforts of a hard-working independent film crew, KOB winds up being a major disappointment. Which is a shame, because I really wanted to like this one. --SF

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