British import StagKnight is a low-budget, medievally-inflected comedy-horror hybrid that has the unfortunate distinction of, A) not being very good, and B) releasing close to The Hangover, so that it suffers even further in guys-gone-wild comparison. And no, despite the lovely ladies pictured below, it’s not even that laden with gratuitous nudity. In fact, there’s barely any, hornballs.
A “cold open” segment set 100 years in the past, on Lammas Day, establishes the mythology that director Simon Cathcart and co-writer Rob Mercer seek to exploit. Flash forward to present day, where a pitiful, motley group of guys celebrating the last weekend of unwedded bliss of pal Brian (Simeon Willis) head out into the country, for some remote paintball and assorted carousing. They’re greeted at their accomodations by a witch-like groundskeeper (Sandra Dickinson) and her giant younger brother, a man of few facial expressions and fewer words. As night falls, Brian and a couple of the weekend warriors wander out into the woods, where they seemingly witness a satanic ritual to raise a dark knight from his 1,500-year slumber.
Running a scant 80 minutes, the film bills itself as “babes, booze and one killer knight out” (again with the pun!), but neither its makers nor performers seem to have a firm grasp on how to effectively blend tone like, say, Sam Raimi, or even how to effectively marry the notion of chivalrous protection to a bunch of lewd, mouthy guys, some of whom are more offensive than others. Eventually, in its final third, StagKnight makes a headlong dash into role-play questing, with the aforementioned groundskeeper sketched out as a villain. None of the characters particularly help convincingly bridge that gap, though.
Small pinches of the dialogue are moderately clever (“When I meet a guy, I think, ‘Is this the man I want my kids to spend their weekends with?'” says one of the strippers), but too frequently it’s buried under thick accents and flat-out terrible ADR work. (Other parts just don’t make sense at all, as when a ritual participant intones, “In the name of the ancient gods, this is a time that isn’t a time, and this is a place that isn’t a place.”) In short, it’s not the lack of production means, or the low-fi inclusion of a knock-off of Predator vision for some of the chase/pursuit sequences that dooms StagKnight, it’s simply the breathtakingly subpar editing, framing and unengaging performances. For those interested, Jocelyn Osorio and Danielle Mason provide the babe-age here; the former as a bit more of an assertive player, the latter as a bewigged party dancer who may or may not be part of a in-joke hoax.
Housed in a bright green Amaray slipcover, StagKnight comes presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and divided into nine chapters. Its supplemental bonus features consist of a four-minute, non-scrollable photo gallery and five minutes of deleted scenes and outtakes, which include the destruction of an outhouse. To purchase the DVD from Amazon, click here. D (Movie) C- (Disc)