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Pickaxe Movie Review

Written by Joel Harley

Released by Wild Eye Releasing

pickaxe poster large

Written and directed by Jeremy Sumrall
2019, 87 minutes, Not Rated
Released on 5th November 2019

A. Michael Baldwin as Sherriff Matthews
Perry Batson as Alex Black
Keefer Barlow as Marilyn
Corey W. Ahre as Bill

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A slasher legend is reborn in Alex Black, an '80s serial killer resurrected by a bizarre blood, sex and Latin ritual in the woods. Once rebirthed, Black wastes little time in getting back down to business – namely, laying into anyone who dares have sex in the vicinity with his massive titular pickaxe. Heh, tit.

I hope you liked that, because you’ll be seeing a lot of those in Pickaxe. Part 80s-inspired slasher film, but mostly a gross sex romp (or should we say slog, or schlep, as the word ‘romp’ implies more fun than this one delivers), the ‘teenagers’ of Pickaxe make those of Friday the 13th and Halloween look positively repressed by comparison. The film is barely more than a series of interlinked sex sequences, each seedier and nastier than the last. Ending, more often than not, with Alex Black whacking someone in the spine with his massive pick axe. There’s a bit of splatter to it, albeit all of the same variety and lacking in the creativity one might have hoped for from a film called Pickaxe.

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It wasn’t always this way though – originally titled The Pickaxe Murders Part III: The Final Chapter (of a non-existent franchise), one can sense a greater ambition and sense of humour behind the scenes. It’s there in every scene in which A. Michael Baldwin’s (Phantasm) grouchy Sherriff Mathews appears, and in Alex Black’s design. Writer and director Jeremy Sumrall certainly knows his way around a camera, and the film is put together well in spite of its low budget. The woodland and cabin setting are spooky and atmospheric, the action coherent. Even the story isn’t an inherently terrible one (it’s basically a cabin in the woods film) – but the execution is dreadful. The characters are irritating archetypes and most of the acting is horrible. The kill sequences are repetitive and uninspired, the sex scenes and nudity not even remotely erotic. The film's runtime is relatively brief, but it feels like so much longer, thanks to its drawn-out inane party sequences, idiotic dialogue and meandering pace.

This style of '80s slasher homage has been done many times before, to varying degrees of success. Pickaxe is certainly no Hatchet, nor is it in the same league as even the worst Friday the 13th movie. It's not funny enough to work as a spoof, too incompetent for homage and too dull to be its own thing. Slasher film completists may have some fun with the low-budget, mean and dirty vibes this one is throwing down, but for the rest of us, it’s a chore.

Still, Sumrall did succeed in evoking the tone and feeling of one very particular kind of 1980s slasher film – the low-rent, boring Friday the 13th rip-off.

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Movie: 1.5 Star Rating Cover
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About The Author
Joel Harley
Staff Reviewer - UK
Haribo fiend, Nicolas Cage scholar and frequently functioning alcoholic. These are just some of the words which can be used to describe Joel Harley. The rest, he uses to write film criticism for Horror DNA and a variety of websites and magazines. Sometimes he manages to do so without swearing.
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