An excerpt from Reals’ script review for Crush the Skull which will be available 03/20/19:

What Worked

A super dark, grimy atmosphere – starting with a little girl locked in a room and chained to her bed as a killer closes in and murders her mother was extremely disturbing. I do wish that we had another scene or two like this, to really emphasize the horror aspect of this story.

The chemistry between the two leads is pretty well-done.

The intro with the robbers getting caught with the cheating wife is funny, but turns brutal quickly and gives a reason for the robbers to have to rob another house and not to want leave the next house they enter when they find a girl in danger.

The rest of the film was pretty decent in terms of plotting – it moves right along and never has a down moment.

It is also pretty creepy that when the robbers get in, they literally can’t get out: windows don’t break, all the doors are locked and solid, cell phones don’t work, etc.

I like that they had ongoing jokes – it is a sign of strong writing (especially when those jokes work) – like the “play dead” suggestion for getting caught by police or the “Don’t insult my crew.” when the crew was clearly incompetent.

The brother was an interesting character, but I do wish he was a bit more developed – he is a screw up, but he genuinely cares for his sister and wants to help her out, no matter what the cost to him. The payoff is nice, however, when he saves them with his plan.

I also liked how the crew slowly discovers that they are in real trouble and is not overwhelmed by the horror at first. Things like finding a creepy video in the basement, chains under the bed, blood on the carpet – it’s a nice build-up.

Saving the real blood and gore for the ending means you can really make the effects count and stand out for the few scenes that you need gore in.

The hostage that they free in the house of horrors who scolds the robbers about their poor stakeout habits was pretty funny and unexpected.

It was also a pretty cool twist that the “trapped girl” wasn’t actually trapped. And I liked that Blair, the robber, called it before we, the audience, did as she realized that the girl’s nails were painted even though she claimed that she had been down in the basement for weeks.

There is something to be said here about making your characters smart and resourceful – they don’t have to solve all of their problems, but it is nice when a character (a character in a horror film especially!) doesn’t run towards the undead guy in a ski mask and makes rational decisions when things count.

The “I’m pregnant” reveal ticked me off because it felt cheap, but then when it was revealed that she was just kidding, it did make me laugh.

I like that the way they beat the killers was by “Pulling a heist on them” – it is another joke that comes back.

I liked that the killer girl the little girl at the beginning, but I feel like more could have been done with that to play up the horror of what that really meant (the girl was kidnapped at a young age and raised to be a serial killer/lover by the original killer).

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