Thursday, September 22, 2016

He Never Died

   He Never Died is the slow burn, low key, dramady, noir-thriller with a supernatural twist you never knew you always wanted. Starring the always epic Henry Rollins, this flick is pretty great. The whole thing rides on his shoulders, and what shoulders they are. Without Rollins I don't think this movie would even be good. Let alone watchable. All the other characters have to play off of him and it's his interactions with them that are just golden. He's fantastic. He Never Died is not one to miss, and you're in luck, it's currently on Netflix instant streaming.

   The movie is hilarious in a completely deadpan way, just like Rollin's character, Jack. He has absolutely no tolerance for bullshit. And, I don't mean in a badass Steven-Segal's-gonna-kick-your-teeth-in kind of way, I mean, he doesn't DO small talk. He'll shut doors in peoples faces when he's done talking to them. He doesn't really say hello or goodbye, he just walks away. It's fantastic. It's like he's not used to interacting with other humans, and we're hardly sure he's even one himself. The movie keeps teasing us alone on that note. What IS Jack? He's clearly not normal. Clearly.

   The movie is a little bit of a horror movie, but not in the sense that it's scary, but it sure is gruesome. Everyone's just about swimming in blood eventually. I'd also say that the movie probably isn't as graphically violent as you might expect. Don't get me wrong, it's pretty damn visceral at times, but some violence takes places entirely off screen, and it works just as well as showing it- if not better. When it comes to Jack, just about anything can and is played for low key laughs, from outright murder to life threatening injuries. The wit and timing of this movie is really unconventional, offbeat, and it works so damn well.

   From the start, He Never Died is engrossing, which is surprising because it does so much with so little. This is one movie that would've only gotten worse with a bigger budget and mainstream backing. This is the exact kind of premise that gets raped to churn out another stale Nicolas Cage vehicle, sapping all the creativity and originality from it, and cramming in 20 minutes of gaudy CGI-laden flashbacks and action scenes that look like they were assembled entirely in post-production. He Never Died is lean and low key. It has maybe three or four locations total: an apartment, a diner, a bingo hall, and a shady office room. It's story is much bigger than it seems at first, but it's also never clumsy or over encumbered.

   It's not specifically action packed, or knee-slapping funny, or even all that scary, but somehow it's all of those things in smaller doses. It's consistently entertaining, but it doesn't rely on it's visceral moments to be the sole selling point. This is ultimately a character driven movie, and we're fortunate that it's main character is so much fun to watch. He's a bit of an oddball, but he's very likable in a really grim way.  Jack has a hell of a past, and not much going for him in the present, so when a daughter he never knew he had turns up on his doorstep, his meticulously ordered world is turned upside down. Which sounds like the plot to a Lifetime crap-fest, but He Never Died takes the premise to some dark and unsettling places. And, like I said, the movie has a supernatural twist.

   I'd suggest not watching any trailers, even the Netflix description blurb gives too much away. The movie has some decent surprises in store for the viewer, so long as you don't watch the trailer which literally gives away the whole plot. I'm not usually one to insist that you avoid the trailer for something, I didn't, but He Never Died is an exception. It's noir-ish stylings are an unusual trapping for this small, dirty, and bloody little flick. It's exciting without resorting to cliches and tired tropes. It's unique, and I'd love to see more of Jack and his world. Lucky for me and fans of the movie, the makers are planning a miniseries continuation of the movie with Henry Rollins returning as Jack. Fuckin' A. As it is, this one is one to watch. You'll have a good time.

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