Horror-comedy fans rejoice, for we have a new hero. It has been 21 years since Ash (Bruce Campbell) really brought gory horror and comedy into the same room with Evil Dead II and while there have been a small handful of worthy successors to the genre, no film to date has given us someone to cheer for. Until now.
Jack Brooks is your average guy – his parents and sister were brutally torn about by a forest troll in front of his eyes, he works as a plumber willing to take payment in egg rolls, has a bitchy girlfriend, and rage issues that threaten to have him upturn a chair and punch a wall at any moment. I find this guy immensely relatable and likable. Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer follows our boy Jack as his night-class professor gets all possessed and shit and starts turning classmates into hungry demon minions. That doesn’t sit right with ol’ Jack, so he grabs a pipe wrench and sets out to make things right – and possibly catch the attention of the class eye-candy. You go Jack!
The film has a respectable body count somewhere around 12. Some of the kills are possessions and a few happen mostly off screen, but there are a handful of good ones mixed in and those who deserve it, get it. Always nice.
Jack Brooks isn’t overly bloody – in the future if there is a sequel, I’d like to see that get amped up a bit. That being said, the red does flow and when it splatters, it looks nice. Towards the climax of the film the level of carnage is pretty cool. We get some bloody bites, some stabbings, smashed heads, a head explosion, some living things consumed and a few bloody transformations. We also see a heart get eaten, a professor throw up and then rub it around a little bit (makes sense in context), tentacles sprout out of bodies and things of that nature. The best kill and sickest ill revolve around a fire extinguisher and a head. It. Is. Awesome.
Sadly we’re scoring a zero in this section. Well, not a zero. There’s no nudity, but we do get some cute girls, most notably Ashley Bryant, who is a total babe. Because she’s in this, I’ll let the lake of exposed boobage slide.
People who are interested in strange things and the occult will always land you in trouble. Well meaning intellectuals will always bring about great tragedy. If someone you know suddenly has an overwhelming craving for food, especially meat, they either have a tape worm or have been possessed by an ancient demon. In either case, you should probably hit them with a fire extinguisher or other heavy metal object, both of which make good weapons. Also, a strong right cross is a handy weapon.
There is a lot to love about this film for me. For one, like I mentioned, we finally have a new hero who can match up somewhat against Ash. Jack Brooks is the angry voice of a new generation of horror. Not only that, but digging just beyond the surface and Brooks (Trevor Matthews) is a surprisingly complex character that shows an honest view of the modern male, struggling to find where he belongs in this world – no joke. Then again, he also solves problems with his fists to the point where this movie could be called “Jack Brooks: Monster Boxer.” The script is well-written and has some memorable lines, my absolute favorite of which is:
He’s yellin at me in Chinese. I don’t even fuckin speak Chinese. So you know, I punched him. Hard.
Effects wise, we also get purely practical efforts, which is amazing. The stuff looks way better than cheap CGI and has a great look to it. There’s even some stop motion thrown in. The monsters are practical, two of which are Man in Suit monsters, that look awesome, and one is a puppet. Totally fun, totally retro throw-back to the simpler days of horror. That’s probably what makes this film work, it’s modern but maintains all the horror and comedic sensibilities of those that came before it. It pays respect to the classics without trying to remake them or turn them into something they’re not. The cast all turn in solid performances, with Trevor Matthews being equal parts bad-ass, dumb-ass, and angry monster slaying comedic hero. Robert Englund looks like he had the time of his life playing his character and brings a lot of life and comedy to the role. Even the supporting characters, like Howard the Hardware Guy, nail their deliveries.
I recommend this film and can’t wait for more.
Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer is in limited release beginning August 15th.