Skull World rocked the recent edition of the Canadian Film Festival with its unique blend of metal and cardboard that looks at a worldwide movement of fun filled carnage. It’s now playing exclusively at the Carlton Cinema in Toronto with two shows daily. Here’s our review, which ran during CFF 2013.
Greg Sommer is an enigma, wrapped inside a mystery, encased in a jean jacket vest. An enterprising man in his early 30s, Greg, and his alter-ego Skull Man, are at war. Box Wars that is. Welcome to Greg’s world. A world of warriors, magic, and glory. A world of metal. Greg is building the Canadian chapter of Box Wars, an international underground movement of cardboard-based combat. Skull World follows two years in the life of Greg, and sheds light on exactly what makes him, and his goals in life, so unique. A comedic and moving journey awaits, not for the faint of heart.
Writer-director (and garden gnome enthusiast), Justin McConnell drops us right in the middle of the island of misfit toys, arming us with only a cardboard sword and its wits in order to get out alive. Much like the end result of a Box Wars, we come out tired, a little bloody, but insanely happy since we just had one hell of a time. McConnell packs the film with events, interviews and gobs and gobs of information to the point that it is almost a little too much. But for this comedic doc with a heart of gold, there is never a single second that the viewer is bored as we learn more about Greg Sommer, Skull Man and Box Wars.
Someone said in the film, “People are just drawn to Greg, he just has that personality.” It’s true, and as a cinematic character he comes across the exact same way. He’s not a guy who fits into the societal norms, and never wanted too, rocking out to the beat of his own drum every step of the way on his path to some sort of happiness. An inherently gonzo character, but also a seemingly grounded and spiritual person who in many ways will always have the heart of the child who wants more than anything to play the games he loves with his friends in front of an adoring audience. As the film admittedly moves at a rapid fire pace, there are some moments where we want to learn even more about Greg but things just get skipped over, particularly a sequence where he is on the phone with his somewhat estranged father. However, McConnell as a storyteller decides to keep the film’s overall focus on the experience of knowing Greg Sommer rather than Sommer himself, and it works just fine making for a fun, fun ride.
At the end of Skull World, when you take a second and step back from it, you’ll know that it is not a perfect film by any stretch, but it’s a film by a talented up and coming filmmaker who made a really enjoyable movie about one of his more interesting friends. Sommer’s genuine joie de vivre is infectious and you won’t be able to help leaving the theatre with a big smile on your face.
Directed by: Justin McConnell
Skull World is playing daily at the Carlton Cinema in Toronto at 3:50 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.