Knight of the Dead Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
DVD released by Signature Entertainment
Directed by Mark Atkins
Written by Mark Atkins and Jeffrey Giles
2013, 78 minutes, Rated 15(UK)
DVD released on 1st July 2013
Feth Greenwood as Leuthar
Dylan Jones as Bjorn
Lee Bennett as Anzo
Nia Ann as The Child
Jason Beeston as Raphael
Alan Calton as Gabriel
What sort of imagery does a title like Knight of the Dead conjure for you? Knights in armour, maybe, fighting medieval zombies? Or an actual zombie in a suit of armour? Personally, I had pictured Sir Daniel Fortesque, protagonist of the PS1 game MediEvil. Maybe a little of everything mentioned there, with a Game of Thrones sort of vibe going on too. Knight of the Dead is not that movie. A shame, since with the zombies, they could have called it 'Game of Groans' or something.
It certainly aims for the Game of Thrones vibe - in that everything is very English and very dirty looking - but never even manages to approach it, in terms of quality. While Sean Bean would have gone down a treat in Knight of the Dead (a fitting title too, given his habit of dying all the time) we instead get a bunch of grubby no-name actors fighting grubby zombies in a cold (and grubby) looking woodland. While there is a little bit of armour, none of the characters are what you might describe as 'knights'. Unless you mean British and smelly, in which case, yes, they technically are. Knight of the Dead is to knights and zombies as Thor: Hammer of the Gods was to Thor and werewolves. And hammers. And Gods.
A travelling band of knights, crusading about with the Holy Grail (Monty Python did it better) find their journey upset by a plague pit full of assassins and the living dead. Surely this can't be the film I just watched, since that synopsis sounds very promising indeed. In reality, Knight of the Dead is amateurish, boring and ugly. The acting is patchy at best and atrocious at worst. It says a lot for the quality of this British film that they couldn't even manage an ex-Eastenders actor among the cast. And those guys will do anything for money.
The medieval horror movie is a tricky subgenre to get right. At its best, you wind up with such gems as Army of Darkness – but the majority of times, it winds up producing films like Black Death (flawed), Season of the Witch (good for Nicolas Cage and not much else) and Knight of the Dead (awful). Which is a shame, because there's still plenty of room for a truly great period horror film. Even an above average one will do right now.
It's not entirely bad though, showing enough glimpses of decency to make its failure even more of a shame. Director Mark Atkins has a fine eye for action and composition given the budget, and there are still some thrills to be had from watching the crusty heroes fighting off the advances of medieval zombies. A higher budget and a suit of armour or two would have done the film wonders, as would downplaying the pulpier aspects during its marketing. The DVD case, resplendent with crusading knights and grabby zombies sets up a sense of expectation that the film itself can't hope to live up to.
Knight of the Dead, in spite of that title and a lot of promise, is not a good movie. Now go away, silly film, or I shall taunt you a second time.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.