Flick finds hitman Johnny (Stephen McHattie) being tasked by his boss Hercules (Henry Rollins) to cut off the pinkie finger of a fading jazz musician (also McHattie), whom Hercules wants to teach some respect. Not only does Johnny botch this assignment, but makes things worse when he rescues a 14 year-old girl (Themis Pauwels) from Hercules’ clutches, that has been betrothed to a vampire (Tómas Lemarquis). Really! That’s the plot!
Bruce McDonald (Hellions, Pontypool) directs this dull flick from a mess of a script by Tony Burgess and Patrick Whistler. It’s a movie that has too much going on and never finds a way to cohesively bring it all together. We have an aging hitman, an aging junkie, jazz musician, eccentric mob bosses, child trafficking and a vampire…and that’s just for starters. Why did the Countess’ (Juliette Lewis) brother have to be a vampire in the first place? It doesn’t seem to really effect the story too much. What was the point of McHattie playing both characters? It’s actually a little confusing for the first few minutes. Finally, what was the point of all this, as it doesn’t really go anywhere. Despite his noteworthy earlier films, McDonald only succeeds here in making 90 minutes seem like hours. At least his visual style hasn’t failed. The European locations look great, by way of cinematography by Richard Van Oosterhout. Only thing to really recommend here.
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Originally filmed in 2013, He Never Died is an offbeat, violent tale with a very odd but dark sense of humor. The film tells the story of Jack (Henry Rollins), who is not like anyone else, he is immortal, un-killable and has a taste for human flesh and blood. He has tried to live as under-the-radar as possible lately, even paying hospital intern, Jeremy (Booboo Stewart) to steal blood for him, so as not to harm others. When Jeremy borrows money from gangsters he can’t pay back and Jack is visited by a daughter (Jordan Todosey) he never knew he had, these two hiccups in his life are thrown together violently, forcing Jack out of his reclusive existence…with a vengeance.
This is a very weird flick as written and directed by Jason Krawczyk and one that is oddly appealing despite being a slow burn and keeping us in the dark, for quite some time, as to who/what Jack is. What makes this work is the character of Jack is strangely likable despite his appetites and penchant for violence when provoked. His desire to stay as out of touch with the rest of the world as possible constantly impacted by the world not cooperating, is engaging enough, when added to the mystery of a man who seems to have been alive forever and not enjoying it. We are strangely fixated, as Jack’s life of seclusion is interrupted by both newfound daughter, Andrea and unwillingly getting involved in the plans of some low level thugs. He is drawn both into violent confrontations and awkward bonding moments, neither he wants any part of. All the while, Jack is trying to control his gruesome appetites that the increasing amount of blood spilled is working against. Like a recovering alcoholic working in a bar, it’s not going well. He is also trying to keep the sweet advances of pretty waitress Cara (Kate Greenhouse) at bay and everyone else from asking too many questions about his life and bizarre behavior. His collision course with a bunch of low level mobsters obviously turns his odd life upside down and not in a good way. Krawczyk presents his strange story with a grim sense of humor and a very moderate pace, but otherwise in a fairly straightforward manner and somehow it works far better than it sounds like it should.
One of the reasons it does work is the engaging but completely weird characterization of Jack by Henry Rollins. Rollins creates a man desperately wanting to remain as far from the world as possible, but also a man of mystery who has seemingly been around forever, can’t be killed and has a nagging taste for human flesh and blood. Rollins’ quirky performance engages and intrigues us, as we are interested in finding out who Jack really is…and we do…and almost root for this man with a dark past as he reluctantly gets drawn into a violent drama he doesn’t want, involving a daughter he would rather not acknowledge. Somehow he makes this guy likable despite how violent and sometimes creepy he can be. There is a subtle and dry humor to Rollin’s approach to Jack that really works. The rest of the cast also work well. Todosey is a spunky and lively young lady and she and Rollins have good chemistry together and makes their awkward bonding scenes very amusing. It’s actually a shame when the plot takes her out of the picture for the second half of the movie. Kate Greenhouse is sweet and sexy as the kind hearted, divorced waitress with an eye for Jack’s quiet loner. The poor girl gets more than she bargained for when she finally gets his attention. Rounding out is Booboo Stewart as the clueless Jeremy and Steven Ogg as an appropriately slimy small-time hood with whom Jack has a past.
This is a really weird and offbeat movie, but oddly likable as well. A sort of indie drama, supernatural horror and revenge flick thrown together in a blender. It has an original story about a very strange anti-hero who wants nothing more than to have life pass him by, though he apparently will live forever. It can be violent and is definitely not for everyone, but a confident director and an eccentric performance by Rollins makes it work far better than it should. It does eventually answer our questions about this mystery man, but at that point we already like him despite not being quite an angel.
3 bingo cards, as even reclusive, immortal flesh-eaters need a hobby.