Review Rating: 7 out of 10
Some rather hapless and desperate thieves end up trapped in the house they intended to rob, which it turns out is the lair of a deranged serial killer!
The movie actually starts off with the two would-be master thieves arguing about needing to retire from the burgling business – while they’re trying not to get caught inside a house they’re currently robbing, of course. Ollie (Chris Dinh) and Blair (Katie Savoy) have made some manner of career out of robbing upper-class homes while dressed as erstwhile painters, but Blair wants to get out of this situation ASAFP, especially when Ollie mistakenly tries to help some of their victims and lands his dumbass in jail! Blair, forced to take out a loan from criminal underworld shark Timmy Song, now has to take on another job to pay back her now debilitating debt, and this leads Blair and Ollie, Blair’s brother Connor (Chris Riedell) and his crewman Riley (Tim Chiou), to the last house they ever should have tried to home-invade.
Blair and Ollie’s relationship, awkward though it may be, seems to work well for them trying to pull off a job together. Brother Connor, despite aspirations of master-burglar-hood, is about as useful as trying to crack a safe with a fork, and his little homie Riley, even less so. Somehow I still adored Riley and his insistence in trying to be helpful somehow, and if nothing else, his loyalty. But good intentions won’t save you from a good knifing once they’ve entered the supposedly empty house of some rich person who’s supposed to be off on vacation. Blair and Ollie get more and more frustrated, checking the empty rooms on the ground floor, only to get startled by the first of many jump scares and find themselves in a secret underground torture lair right out of the Saw movies! And if you thought Connor and Riley were unhelpful before, discovering wannabe-Norman-Bates’ basement down below, complete with leftover victims, just makes everything so much worse!
The black humor our heroes espouse once they’re stuck in the dungeons below the house is completely appropriate for the situation, and let’s face it, something we all would likely be doing if we were in the same spot. There are plenty of horror standard jump scares and director Nguyen actually manages to pull them off fairly well, along with some fine storytelling and even a twist at the ending that not everyone would see coming. Based on two previously successful film shorts, the feature length of Crush the Skull is a fine little horror-comedy romp that is worth a try, if for no other reason than to cheer right along with our heroes when they gleefully wail on villains with a shovel to, say it with me, crush the skull!