William Shatner has banked a lot of goodwill down the years, but he may find himself in sudden arrears. His involvement presumably made this lamentable horror-thriller viable. The Tomb: Devil’s Revenge displays similar levels of coherency to his legendarily expansive acting style. Shatner plays Hayes, a hard-ass military patriarch ball-busting his archaeologist son, John (Jason Brooks), to track down and destroy an ancient relic that has landed the family with a curse “more powerful than anything anyone has ever encountered”. Don’t ask too many questions.
After an initial unsuccessful descent into the cave where the gizmo is hidden, John – played by Brooks like an Indiana Jones having a nervous breakdown – is plagued by visions of skull-headed demons leering over his nearest and dearest. “I think I’m losing it,” he complains to his wife, Susan (Jeri Ryan). “It’s probably just the meds,” she says. Viewers will need prescription-grade stuff themselves to stomach the stiff creature designs and lame CGI, with the revenants hanging around hospitals and high-school corridors like Skeletor cosplay casualties. The script, by Maurice Hurley (who is taking part, with Shatner and Ryan, in something of a Star Trek alumni reunion), also fails to convince. No opportunity for crass emotional manipulation, deadweight exposition or cornball reversals is left undisturbed.
There’s the nugget of a good idea in having the whole family, who tag along for the return to the cave, save the hero-archaeologist. But it is soon discarded in favour of baseline macho bluster. “That’s a sound telling you to man the fuck up,” Hayes tells John, hearing distant carnage. Lines like that from Shatner, with a face tinted Trump orange, might play as some sort of American satire were the rest of the film’s construction not so shoddy. There’s not much veteran B-movie director Jared Cohn can do to save this pudding – though he can take the rap for bizarre pacing that even throws off the possibility of any basic post-pub pleasures.