Rated R by the MPAA – contains violence, gore, language
Note: As I will be out of the country for a period of time, I have decided to inflict upon anyone who reads these reviews a sampling of my earlier work. These will be shorter, less formal, poorly written, and generally crappy. They will lack stills and links, and I will apologize in advance for their poor quality. They have received minor edits to (very slightly) improve readability. Enjoy.
(review originally published 10/26/08)
I didn’t realize it at the time, but Jack Brooks is done by the same couple guys who made Still Life, a very nice short film. I remember watching it a while back and quite enjoying it. Nice and violent for a short, too. That must have been how I heard about Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer. It’s not a bad thing that I did, either, as it’s a rather enjoyable low-budget horror. Now, I say low budget, but that comes more because the movie doesn’t try to overreach itself, not because the effects are bad. In fact, the effects (which according to IMDb use no CGI) are quite good. They did things the old fashioned way: latex and plenty of colored corn syrup. While the movie wasn’t quite what I expected, if you go in expecting something closer to what it is you might enjoy it more.
The title makes it sound like there’s a guy who goes around killing monsters. Not exactly the case. The film opens with a couple monster scenes, the second of which involves a young boy witnessing his family getting torn to shreds by a forest troll. We learn his name is Jack Brooks, and now that he’s all grown up he has an anger problem. Fact is, he punches out just about everyone that pisses him off. And he gets pissed off quickly. So he goes about life as a plumber (yes, Jack the Plumber), has a crappy college girlfriend, and pops in on his shrink occasionally, mostly to yell at him. Now it may seem that Jack is an obnoxious prat, but he’s played well enough by Trevor Matthews that he remains rather likeable.
His girlfriend has made him go to an evening chemistry class, so he does. The professor is a nerdy Robert Englund, who one day has plumbing issues out at his old house on the hill. To sum up the remainder of the movie briefly (in order to avoid too many spoilers), there’s an evil Japanese demon heart that the professor finds that threatens to unleash evil in the chemistry class and on toward the end of the movie Jack discovers the reason the movie is called Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer.
So, keep in mind that this isn’t Evil Dead reborn. Nor is it like the graphic novel series Hack/Slash, where the duo slices and dices serial killers. It is more like an origin story of this monster slayer, which means that the first hour of the film is relatively boring, keeping mostly to his ordinary life.
That doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s quite enjoyable, actually. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but doesn’t try too hard to be witty or self-absorbed, either. There are a couple annoying characters who have difficulty acting at the same level as the rest of the cast . Englund is fun in his small but important role. And the violence is fun, even though it sometimes veers into made-for-Sci-Fi channel territory. Overall, not a bad way to spend 85 minutes watching some gore fly with some friends.