An opening montage sets up the plot of Twelve (aka XII), although not in a particularly substantial or satisfying way. Leonard Karlsson is a man convicted (rightfully or wrongly) of an unspecified crime involving children and, whilst in prison, his face is mutilated by fellow inmates. Upon release Leonard decides to kidnap and skin the faces of the twelve jurors who sealed his fate, replicating the torture he received.

After the somewhat dark opening montage and credits the tone shifts to a happy ‘just married’ couple driving out of Vegas. Suddenly a truck pulls up alongside side them and a shotgun blast blows up the groom’s head. Splatter fans beware though as after this early scene the gorier sequences are held back until the final act. Lacking suspense or tension this sequence appears to be played for laughs and a minor amount of shock but the rest of the film is not in line with this.

One of the jurors Vicki (Mercedes McNab), in particular, could have been an entertaining character in keeping with the tone of this early scene but her character is weighed down by dialogue that is nowhere near as snappy or sassy as it could have been. McNab makes a spirited effort though and is probably the highlight here, although her very brief moments in Hatchet II surpass the total of what we see here.

Apart from McNab the performances in Twelve are unremarkable although this could be more to do with the script and direction than the actors themselves. Emily Hardy as Claire, for instance, is a little wooden and unconvincing but her audition tape (included in the featurette on the DVD) suggest that there was a better performance there that didn’t make it to the screen.

Twelve is sadly a very by-the-numbers horror and there is an overriding sense that the filmmakers (in particular writer/director Michael A. Nickles) have no love for the genre or any burning desire to do anything interesting or different. It appears to be more an exercise in box ticking. The commentary on the DVD attests to this as there are long periods of awkward silence, they literally have nothing to say.

The DVD of Twelve contains the following special features:

  • Feature commentary by cast and crew
  • Beneath the Skin – A featurette on the making of the film
  • A Shotgun in the Head – a breakdown of the effects process used to create the shotgun/exploding head death sequence.
  • Make up FX gallery – A narrated slideshow of behind the scenes pictures of the film’s FX.

Twelve is released on DVD today.

Embedded below is the extra ‘A Shotgun in the Head’ (via sclapham’s youtube channel). This gory but amusing video is probably NSFW.