Originally screened in 2011, Filth to Ashes, Flesh to Dust is on its surface another slasher flick, completed with an unstoppable serial murderer and the usual shallow victims, but this movie also attempts to inject some of society’s concerns, such as racism, class warfare, the proliferation of urban legends, and even Nazi ideology—namely, that there is only one superior race and that all others must be purged with extreme prejudice.
Arguably the movie’s best part is the beginning, which shows two women trapped inside a small room lined with newspapers. The serial murderer steps in and begins to prepare for a night of horror. As he gets started on one of the girls, the other manages to escape into the nearby desert.
The movie then cuts to Eric (Derrick Bishop) and his fiancée Shelly (Diana Quezada), whose car was diverted down a lonely stretch of road because the highway was blocked with an accident. When the couple stops for a potty break, Eric pulls out a ring and begins to ask for her hand in marriage. Sadly, the serial murderer—not in the best of moods—shows up and quickly dispatched poor Shelly while the escapee and Eric look on.
The movie then shifts for the final time, where Eric is working as a mechanic. His little brother Juan (Teodorico Paul Sajor) has fallen in with a group of rich kids with shitty attitudes—the lead girl calls her friend Kiara (Bianca Lemaire) the racial epitaph of “monkey.” Kiara is in college and needs to write a thesis paper for psychology. Lead white boy Ronan (Anton Troy) claims he knows where serial murderer “Purge” is reputed to have lived. According to online documentation uncovered by Kiara, Purge’s objective is to kill everything that is not “perfect,” and that includes minorities, misfits, and actual thinkers. Juan soon discovers that it was his own big brother who once felt Purge’s wrath, so he is motivated to see the killing site.
As the kids head off on their big adventure, Eric is visited by the original survivor, who is now a recovering junkie and still messed up over the whole ordeal. Eric believes Purge to be dead, but he is very much alive, still existing inside a labyrinth of corridors and carrying out his motto of “filth to ashes, flesh to dust.” When Eric learns that his brother has gone back to the scene of the murder, he (with the shotgun-toting ex-junkie) set off to stop a second series of murders.
The bulk of the movie has the annoying teens doing battle with Purge, and once some of them are dispatched, Eric and the ex-junkie join the ruckus. There’s some blood and guts, and the teens all do some pretty stupid stuff, and then this 90-minute ordeal is over.
A lackluster script by Derrick Bishop and mediocre direction by Paul Morrell are the principal flaws of this movie. The young cast does a pretty good job with what they are given, but the words and actions make for a pretty mundane storyline. There is no real tension throughout, as Purge makes for a dull serial killer. At one point, he is confronted with a shotgun (!). Rather than shoot, the ex-junkie tries instead to use it like a club. Later, another dude tries to use it, but it misfires (a shotgun misfires with a click).
The gore effects are okay, with Purge generating enough punching power at one point to go through a girl’s body. The urban legend angle starts off well, but it is soon abandoned, with Purge simply a man (a really strong man) who is vulnerable to attack. It’s easy to point at budget constraints with this sort of movie, but this movie’s failure falls on a script in need of some more development and a director who needs a better handle on his actors and in creating tension and solid moments of horror. There are some attempts at the supernatural (the “ghost” that appears to Eric, for example), but these do not make the movie any better.
Fans of slasher flicks that are curious may get a few thrills out of Filth to Ashes, Flesh to Dust, but those interested in conventional slasher trappings will be disappointed. There have been some slasher movies with minimal budgets that have gotten the thrills, right, but don’t count Filth to Ashes, Flesh to Dust in their number.