I will confess that when I first heard the title of this documentary, I thought it was about some horror convention or something. Boy, was I wrong…but that’s not a bad thing. This film opened my eyes to a new world, a subset of society that is filled with battle cries and cardboard, and details the concept of Box Wars, a sort of live-action role-playing experience. SKULL WORLD is a riveting look into one man’s life and his quest to bring unique entertainment into mainstream culture.
If you are not familiar with SKULL WORLD, here is the plot synopsis:
Follows several years in the life of Greg Sommer, aka Skull Man, as he builds the Canadian chapter of Box Wars, an international underground movement of cardboard-based combat. Metal, mayhem, comedy and creativity collide in this globe-spanning tale of a man, his mission, and the adventure that is his world.
I had never heard of Box Wars prior to watching this film, but I have to admit: I’m intrigued. The concept is brilliant and something I could see coming straight out of my 80s-era childhood: two groups of ‘warriors’ adorn themselves with armor and weapons made of cardboard, and then they commence to beating each other until the armor is torn off. This simplistic idea is appealing to people of all ages across the world. And why not? Box Wars is an adrenaline-fueled battle royale that doesn’t require much skill, only a strong will to have fun.
SKULL WORLD is the brainchild of director Justin McConnell, who also did THE COLLAPSED, a post-apocalyptic thriller that I reviewed here last summer. McConnell takes us on a different kind of journey this time, highlighting the exploits of Greg Sommer, a man in his 30s who lives a different kind of life. Instead of bowing to the corporate grind, Sommer spends his working hours as a cemetery caretaker; on his off-time, Sommer rocks out to heavy metal and promotes his entertainment venue, Box Wars.
But there’s much more to SKULL WORLD than what you see on the surface. This isn’t a film about a bunch of slackers with no ambition in life. On the contrary, this is a look into a growing subculture that encompasses both men and women who are looking to make life better by offering a legal ‘escape’. Box Wars offers a way for people to let off steam without actually (intentionally) hurting people. Not to mention, it promotes a sense of camaraderie among those who participate, whether your or old, male or female. In short, it’s like the metal version of a social mixer.
SKULL WORLD is an eye-opening glimpse into a world you probably never knew existed. The film is based in Canada, but its secondary subject matter, Box Wars, is growing and sweeping across the globe like a tidal wave. I wouldn’t be surprised to start hearing about it in mainstream conversation very soon. I suggest giving this documentary a look so you can learn more about Greg Sommer and Box Wars.