Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer

Title: Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer
Director: Jon Knautz
Released: 2007
Staring: Robert Englund, Trevor Matthews, Rachel Skarsten, David Fox, Daniel Kash

Rating: 3 / 5

Plot: Jack Brooks (Matthews) is a Plumber with some serious anger issues, the result of having witnessed his family being slaughtered by a demon back when he was a kid. Still Jack soon finds himself in a whole world of trouble, when he wakens an ancient evil after fixing the pipes of his night school professor Dr. Crowley (Englund), who is soon possessed and turned into a demon, leaving it up to Jack to stop him.

Review: What is it about the current Horror scene, which has caused it to be so incapable of producing memorable characters anymore, with perhaps the sole exception it would seem being the “Saw” franchise which is now more an exploration of ideas and iconology, rather than anything resembling creating a new horror icon, who appears throughout a series, with Jigsaw these days reduced to cameo appearances, while B-Movie actors fight over his legacy and with studios more content to churn out one shot villains or just remake tried and tested franchises. But seriously through were are the Jason’s and Freddy’s or even the new Ash of this era? Now don't start getting too over excited and start assuming that after that little rant, that you finally having a new hero to root for as they unleash hell on the unholy hordes, as although this is something Jack Brooks does rather well in a brute force and ignorance kind of way, this film still feels like too much of an introduction to this character and almost like a TV pilot which has been expanded into a feature, rather than the first entry in what has the potential of being a great series.

From the beginning it certainly hits the ground running, while also highlighting it’s use of old school FX over crappy looking CGI, with these effects continuing thoughout, as we open with one of the monstrous creation laying waste to a bunch of tribal warriors, before being introduced to a slightly feral version of Jack, as the film suddenly takes us right back to the beginning as we are given the whistle stop tour of Jack’s past complete with his dry running narration to highlight the more important parts, before ending up at the time in his life before he found his true calling, with Jack generally being the embodiment of an antihero, as it soon becomes over clear that not only does he have a slight issue with anger (basically knocking out anyone who ticks him off) but also really doesn't give to much of a damn what anyone thinks. It's these early beginnings which this film serves to essentially cover and well pretty little else, which is certainly worth knowing going into this film, especially if you want to avoid some serious disappointment, as it feels the film finally gets into a fun groove and then suddenly ends, having brought the story back to were it opened. This plotting is also not helped by the lack of a noteworthy villain, for Robert Englund’s mild mannered professor turning into a demon, is hardly the big nasty you'd expect, while also baring a striking similarity to the blob monster Chet gets turned into in “Weird Science” (1985), though it’s safe to say that moment of film randomness, never created it’s own army of student zombies.

Matthews is great as Jack and truly embodies the role, while never lets his performance become farcical, even when the film finally gets into a good monster slaying groove. Despite Jack being hardly the most likable of characters, seeing how he cusses off the majority of people he meets, while punching out the rest and being a real general arsehole, with the truly standout moment coming after the mentor esq Howard (Fox) has explained how he not only lost his arm, only for Jack to be more interested in how he dug the hole he buried the demon in, rather than anything to do with the monster he seems fated to face. Horror legend Englund seems to have fun, playing such an oddball role, even if the role consists of him largely acting frenzied and possessed while chowing down on a number of increasingly disgusting food sources, rather than anything particularly strenuous acting wise and even though he’s playing it for laughs it’s still believable enough, unlike the complete naivety of his night school class, who even when he’s entering the later stages of his demonic transformation, none of them actually seem to question what is actually wrong with him, other than the occasional comment on his appearance.

My main gripe with this film is all in the pacing, seeing how nothing really happens until the final quarter. True we get alot of build up and Englunds gradual transformation into a hideous demon, yet this does leave the feel feeling quite ponderous in places, as Knautz not only gives us the backstory for Jack but pretty much spends most of the film, driving home who Jack was before he finally finds his calling, which despite being made up for in the finale which is a joyous orgy of violence and slime, as Jack goes to town on the demon hordes, though the journey to these moments really does test the patience of the viewer, much like the first “Mad Max” (1979) which this film could certainly be comparable to, as both have the action packed openings and endings, with a focus on character development weighing everything down in the middle.

Knautz with this film could potentially given us the new Ash and with “Evil Dead 4” not seeming likely anytime soon, Jack could certainly be the one to help to fill the void, especially with the similarities in character between Jack and Ash, even if Jack really doesn't have the same quick fire one liners, though it's a mantle that Jack could easily pick up if Knautz ever gets around to making the proposed sequel, which going off this first film in what I hope will be the first in a great series, with this film no doubt making more sense especially with it’s pacing when seen as a series rather than a single film, again much like “Mad Max” which certainly worked a lot better when viewed as the first in a series and hence the start of a larger story, with were Knautz takes the character next certainly being intriguing prospect, though personally here’s hoping it’s more focused on the action side of things as this is truly were the real potential for the series lies, rather than trying to fill the audience in on every aspect of the Jack psyche, as the average horror viewer shows up for the prospect of gore, monsters and occasional nudity and not a psychology lesson. Here’s hoping that Knautz figures this out for the sequel.

1 comment:

  1. really wouldnt mind watching this one, hadn't heard of it until now


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