Little Box of Horrors: Cross – Rise of the Villains.

Little Box of Horrors: Cross - Rise of the Villains.

It seems every C-List actor looking for a paycheck signed on to this lousy flick.

This year’s Thanksgiving leftovers came courtesy of Red Box’s winter sale. As I was picking through the movies we missed in theaters, one film kept catching my eye. A movie that practically begged to be in a Little Box of Horrors review. Rank amateurism and stale celebrity wafted off this film in waves. I could say that it didn’t disappoint, but that would be a lie. Its whole allure was disappointment.

Horror of Horrors.

Trying to be fair to the usual battle royale process, I went about trying to see if there was possibly anything worse than Cross – Rise of the Villains to choose from. First, this film is a sequel, so I looked at all of the awful sequels available:

  • Angry Birds 2 (2019) – This one actually got decent reviews despite completely cratering at the box office. Perhaps save this for a “How Bad Is It?” review.
  • Daddy’s Home 2 (2017) – Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell haven’t done anything good in years. Mel Gibson is a piece of garbage. I’m still salty at John Lithgow for Pet Sematary. Pass.
  • Undercover Brother 2 (2019) – A 17 year past-date sequel to Eddie Griffin’s “Austin Powers, but black” comedy? Without Eddie Griffin? This movie can stay undercover indefinitely.
Or, you know, don’t. Your choice.

OK, that’s no good. How about movies with insanely generic titles that give no information about the film?

  • 10 Minutes Gone (2019) – I have a distinct feeling that this Bruce Willis generic cop flick would make a lot more than 10 minutes of my life gone.
  • The Driver (2019) – Mark Dacascos is having a hell of a year. Not enough of a year to make me watch a movie called The Driver that’s actually about an assassin and zombies.
  • Killerman (2019) – Thor’s little brother in a generic crime flick. I’d have to be the god of hammered to watch this.
I’ll have one of everything. Better make it two.

So. Looks like Cross – Rise of the Villains is both the blandest title and the unlikeliest sequel. Let’s watch this piece of poop.

Cross – Rise of the Villains (2019)

Callan possesses the powerful Cross amulet, imbuing him with supernatural power. He uses this power alongside his team of weapons experts to fight crime. Unfortunately, his is not the only amulet created by the gods.

The crime lord Muerte (Danny Trejo) has stolen the amulet of Death for the maniacal Drago, giving him a power even greater than Callan’s. Now Callan must team up with his arch-enemy, Gunnar (Vinnie Jones), to prevent the apocalypse.

Undercover Brother 2 (2019) - A 17 year past-date sequel to Eddie Griffin's "Austin Powers, but black" comedy? Without Eddie Griffin? This movie can stay undercover indefinitely.
His glows red, so you KNOW he’s the bad guy.

The Funny Pages.

The gimmick to this film is that Callan and his world exist inside a comic book. A magic comic book. A group called the Guardians have realized that Callan’s actions in the comic can effect the real world. So if Callan’s world gets nuked by Danny Trejo having a bad day, real people could die.

This losers club and their magic comic book stuff might make sense if I’d seen the rest of the franchise, but fuck me sideways that’s never going to happen.

On one level, this adds potentially interesting wrinkles. The film adopts lots of tropes from super hero movies and comic books. It also feeds into a visual aesthetic where actions are presented in story-board frames like the panels of a comic book. The best part of the film is the score, which adopts the big orchestral beats of a Christopher Nolan super hero film.

On every other level, it’s a train wreck.

Super Ego.

Patrick Durham wrote, directed, produced and co-starred in this turgid project. There’s a reason why this combo is dreaded by film critics. It virtually guarantees that what you’re going to watch is a giant wank fest that nobody with any sense got to edit. Which is exactly what we get here.

Undercover Brother 2 (2019) - A 17 year past-date sequel to Eddie Griffin's "Austin Powers, but black" comedy? Without Eddie Griffin? This movie can stay undercover indefinitely.
Panel after panel of padding.

The pace is egregious. Action sequences are flabby and stale and go on for decades. The rest of the film is dull exposition imparted by both the drama club Guardians emoting furiously, and the main cast pulling their puds while desperately trying to get off dialogue that makes them sound interesting.

Run for Cover.

The action in Cross – Rise of the Villains is laughably bad. The gun and explosion effects are digital. And awful. Choreography is non existent for the fight scenes. The dynamic of the prolific gunfights is staggering in its stupidity. Somebody needs to tell Durham that getting shot in a bullet-proof vest is not the same as being hit with a pebble thrown by a toddler.

Also, maybe if you’re going to rely on cover-based gunfights, tell the chowder heads you’re directing to actually take fucking cover. The good guys constantly have the majority of their body exposed while trading lousy one-liners. Poor Lou Feriggno has a big scene where he charges in, guns blazing, then takes cover dramatically. Behind a wire rack that wouldn’t stop a water balloon. Still, the baddies NOT TEN FEET AWAY FROM HIM can’t manage a shot on target. Incompetent action sequences all around.

I don’t care if you ARE the comic relief character, get your damn fool head down!

Indie Go Go Away.

This movie feels crowd-funded in all the worst ways. The cast is positively bloated with characters, each of them generic “badass” characters with names like Nuke, War, Blackfire, etc. They feel like the kind of self-aggrandizing crap unimaginative role-players write for themselves. A good deal of the pacing bloat is doling out screen time to all of the side characters. Like we give a good goddamn about any of the non-super-powered characters in our mother trucking super hero flick.

The “name” actors are relegated to hood ornaments that either do nothing except spout exposition, or have one flash in the pan action scene. Of cover-based shooting. This film can’t get enough of that shit.

Vinnie Jones is the only effective character…since his motivation is that he hates everyone around him and longs for death. By the time we meet him in the movie, I 100% agree with him.

You’re never going to make Pool Boy 2 if you keep this up, Danny.

Crossed Out.

Cross – Rise of the Villains should not exist. There’s nothing interesting on offer here. The character’s are lame cliches and C-listers slumming around for a paycheck. Everything from the plot to the frame-narrative premise fails to rise to even the level of camp. Much like The Last Heist, it functions as a vanity project; an excuse for the director and his chums to lark around in bad cosplay, acting out juvenile action movie fantasies.

What the fuck is with all those pouches? Did Rob Liefeld do the costume design?

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