Review: Rolfe Kanefsky’s “Art of the Dead”

Since the dawn of horror cinema, there’s always been a connection between an artist’s creations and the supernatural. That link is explored in Art of the Dead, a film shot by Mahal Empire Productions in collaboration with Slaughtercore Presentations and Nicholas George Productions. Based on the story by Michael Mahal and Sonny Mahal, Art of the Dead follows a man named Dylan Wilson as he purchases a collection of seven paintings to hang in his family home. Little does he know, the paintings have been corrupted by the seven deadly sins, and they’re about to unleash Hell on the small family and everyone around them. And it’ll be up to Dylan’s son’s girlfriend to save them all from total annihilation. Written and directed by Rolfe Kanefsky, Art of the Dead stars Lukas Hassel, Jessica Morris (“One Life to Live”), Tara Reid (American Pie, Sharknado), Richard Grieco (“21 Jump Street”), Tania Fox, Aaron Groben (“Face Off”), Sarah French (Blind, The Amityville Murders) and Robert Donavan. Find it on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital on Demand starting October 1st 2019 courtesy of ITN Distribution.

To be honest, I was only interested in watching Art of the Dead because of Tara Reid (you read that right!). Not only am I infatuated with her raspy voice and pleasant disposition, but I love the path her career as an actress has taken. She started as a soap opera star, graduated to a romantic comedy queen and now she’s been rocking the horror genre like nobody’s business. Placing her in a movie like Art of the Dead is a surefire way to get viewers’ eyes on this title because, I mean, it worked for me! Luckily, Art of the Dead has a lot more going for it than the dynamic blonde from American Pie, and a ton of other cast members have boast-worthy resumes of their very own. As with Reid, I’m happy to see Jessica Morris and Richard Grieco making horror their home in recent years. This film was produced by Michael Mahal and Sonny Mahal, and it features cinematography by Michael Su and editing by Jay Woelfel. I don’t have many qualms with this movie in terms of production quality, but I will say it feels like something out of David DeCoteau’s catalog. It’s super crisp and super clean, but it lacks any sort of artistic style, which is strange in a movie about killer art pieces.

Art of the Dead is an acid trip. It really is. I never knew what was coming next from moment to moment. I love that a psychological drama was lurking beneath a supernatural horror flick, and that filled me with a ton of added bonuses as a viewer. It deviated from traditional horror paths and stereotypes to deliver a movie that was truly original and used the seven deadly sins in a cool way. Magic, monsters and bestiality, other realms, blood splatters and lots of screaming. Art of the Dead has it all, even if it doesn’t come out as coherently as Rolfe Kanefsky, Michael Mahal and Sonny Mahal wanted it to. Still, this is a crazy, silly, creepy, campy and sexy romp through the art world and the underbelly of high society. I love independent films and film-makers who dare to do something different. The only thing that really hurts this flick is that maybe it’s trying to do too much at once, and I think I’d need a second viewing to understand and enjoy it in full. It’s coming to home media on October 1st 2019 and I’d say give it a stream!

Final Score: 7 out of 10.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)