The term LARPing could mean a lot of things, giving birth, digestive issues, or having a laughing fit. Instead, LARPing means Live Action Role Play and people all over the world participate in full on LARPing festivals. People pretend to be wizards, hobbits, trolls, and warriors when on these excursions and truth be told, they can be a lot of fun.
In the new film, Knights of Badassdom out now on blu-ray, LARPing is on display. Joe (True Blood star Ryan Kwanten) is a sad, unmotivated heavy metal musician who just got dumped by his hot girlfriend. Joe is on a drunken bender and gets kidnapped by his friends and wakes up in the middle of a LARP festival that looks like a cross between Dungeons and Dragons and Lord of the Rings. There are fake wizards, warriors and more as well as guys in giant green monkey suits.
Joe lives with his friends, (the ones who kidnapped him) Hung (Peter Dinklage) and Eric (Steve Zahn) who bought a suburban castle after coming into a lot of money. They are huge LARPers and to get Joe into the festival they perform a faux ritual sacrifice. However, the ritual they are performing isn’t fake. The book they read from is an ancient book of spells and Joe ends up summoning some ancient evil.
Running into Gwen (Summer Glau) and her brother Ronnie (Jimmi Simpson), helps Joe get into the LARP. Gwen is a huntress who is on Joe’s team and they head off by themselves, leaving Joe’s friends to continue the LARP. The evil demon that Joe summoned, in the meantime has surfaced and is wreaking havoc on everyone at the LARP and making quick disposal of each character in gruesome fashion.
The world of LARPing is a pretty easy target for jokes, however to the the films credit it never insults the people who participate in LARPing but instead gently teases them. Balancing comedy with horror is no easy feat and I applaud any film that tries to do so, especially one that was shot on a modest budget. It’s rare when both are fully balanced and I can only think of one film (The original Fright Night) that did it perfectly. The comedy in Knights of Badassdom takes a backseat to the horror, which is unfortunate, but not unexpected.
In the lead role Ryan Kwanten steps out of the supporting player role he has perfected in True Blood and does a very solid job of keeping the move going forward while being likable. Kwanten has an everyday charm here and you believe that he would live in a castle with his two friends listening to heavy meal music all day long. Summer Glau plays of Ryan Kwanten nicely and they have an easy chemistry between them.
The blu-ray transfer is good if not perfect. The details pop nicely during the day shots but at night the picture quality loses some quality. The normal viewer probably wouldn’t notice but there were a couple times when I had to really pay attention to see all the detail in the picture.
The special features include a short interview with Peter Dinklage, a Summer Glau “Hottie” Montage, a short interview with Steve Zahn, a short featurette titled Horr-o-mey parts 1 and 2, an interview with Joe Lynch, the San Diego Comic Con panel and the theatrical trailer.
Overall, I enjoyed Knights of Badassdom and thanks to the easy going quality of the leads the film sucks you in. There does seem to be a missing ingredient in the film and with the impressive cast featured one wants a little more out of the film. However, blending horror and comedy is no easy feat and any film that can tackle the genre gets props from me.
Knights of Badassdom is out now on Blu-Ray!
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