By: Trevor Jeffery
All sleep and no play makes Jack aggressive and hungry for flesh.
Jack (Henry Rollins) is a straightforward kind of guy: he doesn’t drink, he doesn’t smoke and he definitely doesn’t eat meat. He knows what he likes: he likes is to sleep for 15 hours a day, play bingo in a church basement, and frequent the diner 12 blocks from his apartment. He also likes to purchase indistinct white packages from unscrupulous young interns; one such intern gets himself in a spat – the pull-your-nails-off-with-a-pair-of-pliers kind of spat – with some low-rent mafia types. Since Jack sort of relies on Jeremy the intern (Booboo Stewart), he gets involved and makes himself a target. Meanwhile, the 19-year-old daughter he never knew he had (Jordan Todosey) shows up at his door. The clash of worlds knocks him off the wagon, and the angry not-quite human Jack rampages through crooks and criminals for fun and food, while looking for his kidnapped daughter.
Jason Krawczyk’s He Never Died is a masterpiece of mixed genres. The nuts and bolts are tightened and accounted for: the set and lighting design give the naturally noir script a living, breathing setting in which it plays so comfortably. The film’s story is paced for perfect engagement: just enough is revealed at a time to keep you intrigued but not frustrated, and once the mystery is gone, it’s all-out action from there. The sound design is an aspect of Jack’s character, adding even another dimension to a surprisingly deep character despite his curt demeanor.
Speaking of, Henry Rollins as Jack is worth the price of admission alone. Compelling and hilarious, his timing against the rest of the cast is just enough to always leave you wanting more (just open up for once, Jack!). Jack himself is an intriguing character. He’s the good kind of bad, where you can convince yourself to align to the morals of his actions: you want to so badly because he’s darn likable in the mysterious kind of way. The moments in which the not supernaturally inhuman characters are reasonably panicking over a room full of dead mobsters makes Rollins’ curtness all the more pleasingly hilarious: the stark contrast of Jack’s character amongst a crew of realistically reacting characters makes the dark humour just a little bit charming, too.
The particular blend of horror, comedy, action and noir makes He Never Died stand out – there isn’t much out there like it. Rollins gives gold with his performance, being so pleasingly watchable even as he rips out a man’s esophagus.
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Trevor Jeffery: @TrevorSJeffery