Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer (2008)

Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer reviewReviewed by Paul McCannibal

Starring Trevor Matthews, Robert Englund, Rachel Skarsten, James A. Woods

Directed by Jon Knautz

Let me preface this tirade with a statement that is intrinsic to whether or not this review will be of any value to you: I do not particularly enjoy comedy movies, especially not broad American ones.

You see, I really don’t get it when the trailers for comedies starring Will Ferrell or John C. Reilly come on in the theatre. The expectant quotient of the audience laughs out loud as I think “why does anyone find this bullshit funny?” The fanbase for these types of films seems to find endless mirth via joke equivalents of people walking into trees or slipping on banana peels, which mystifies me. In the rare occasions that I have had to sit through one of these shitty mass audience comedies (usually on a plane), I’m even more puzzled by the fact that viewers will again laugh at the one part of the film that was played over and over again on the TV commercials. Even though they’ve seen the gag or heard the one-liner multiple times, they’re still laughing. What is up with that?

So yes, I’m that guy, the curmudgeon who a lot of folks will think needs to get a sense of humor. And maybe rightly so, because on some primal level I find the very idea of going to something categorized as funny (as in “comedy” as a genre) annoying. Just show me the film. I’ll tell you if it’s a comedy or not.

I don’t really like comedy/horrors either. Nothing worse than a blend that delivers on neither laughs nor fear. Not that the entire hybrid concept has been an outright failure. I love Return of the Living Dead and even have to give some grudging respect to certain moments in the Evil Dead series for at least giving me the odd chuckle even if I was shaking my head and seeing the content as being far beneath my superior standards. Deadly End, a favorite of mine in recent years, is both funny and horrific. But overall, it’s just not a genre I have much time or affinity for. Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer stands firmly and unapologetically in this category, seeming like it was modeled on 80’s stock horror from companies like Cannon or New Line.

Funnily enough, I should add, in the 80’s they made comedies about nerds. Now we’re making movies specifically for fans of 80’s stock horror? Comedies aimed at the avid fanbase of a genre-subgenre? That’s called making comedies for nerds. How times have changed.

So now, at least know you are reading a review loaded with conceit and cynicism, arguable bitterness, and maybe just a grain or two of misanthropy. If this Jack Brooks movie is what the crowd wants, then consider me an eternal loner. But I digress. I have to review this film because I was asked to so here I go.

It’s about a plumber named Jack Brooks who has an anger management problem (that’s the one thing, as you might guess, that I could relate to in this film). He sees a shrink. He goes to a night class. His teacher turns into a tentacled monster. Jack Brooks battles the monster. There are sight gags galore and broadly comedic characters all the way through. There’s a lot of Special FX makeup and some blood and gore, and Robert Englund is in it. In spite of all that (or perhaps because of it), I found it a real chore to get through this movie. It wasn’t very funny and it certainly wasn’t scary. At the same time, as I watched I had a strong feeling this would play really well to a rowdy Midnight Movie audience. I also watched this immediately after seeing “>Let the Right One In (review), which was absolute cinematic class, one of the most beautiful and poetic narratives ever put to film in the horror genre. Seeing these films back to back made me kind of irritated, as I pondered how so much manpower and money is shoveled towards “entertainment” at the cost of substance. But then, most people want “entertainment”. So there you go. Jack Brooks will likely see a far bigger audience than Let the Right One In ever will because of that reality.

And there you have the nuts and bolts of the review. I didn’t like it but that doesn’t mean you won’t like it. On my end, this is guaranteed the last time I ever watch a movie that brashly markets itself as a horror/comedy. The only reason I give it more than a single dagger is because it didn’t do what the equally abysmal horror/comedy Hatchet did and market itself as a real “old school” horror film. At least Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer didn’t trick me with an eerie trailer and a straight-faced horror poster featuring a bloody axe. Jack Brooks doesn’t pretend to be anything that it is not, and it’s the kind of movie where if it looks like you’re going to like it, there’s a reasonably good chance you’re going to like it. If not, you won’t. It’s that simple really.

Readers of this review should be aware of something else of critical importance in relation to this movie. Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer won the Midnight X-Treme award at the illustrious Sitges festival, as well as the audience award at the Calgary film fest. So there’s a lot of people out there who didn’t think it sucked. So spare me the angry emails if you don’t agree with my review – there are plenty of people out there to enjoy this movie with. As a matter of fact, I insisted on submission of this very review that someone representing the positive perspective on this film at Dread Central put in a review and tear me to shreds for being totally, utterly wrong about it. Because I just know a lot of people are going to see this movie and think I’m wrong and that I’m just plain no fun.

My point of view stands. Feel free to throw a big party and talk at length about how much of a jerk I am. I’ll be happy to be alone watching something that’s actually good.


1 1/2 out of 5

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  • Evil Alien

    come on DC. what’s the reasoning on publishing something like this. your boy needs a lesson on how to rip a movie to shreds a la Rue Morgue. but until then, keep this “McCannibal” out of here.

  • The Butcher

    “I also watched this immediately after seeing Let the Right One In (review), which was absolute cinematic class, one of the most beautiful and poetic narratives ever put to film in the horror genre. ”

    Damn straight. LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is in a class by itself.

  • G.D.

    I have little to know interest in seeing this, but I figured I would chime in and say YES…Hatchet was fucking AWFUL.

    And the worst part WAS that it marketed itself as old school horror.

    If it had marketed itself as goofy splatter, then I wouldn’t have cared because I wouldn’t have seen it, but to SO blatantly LIE about the movie in the advertising is pathetic.


    …even if I was shaking my head and seeing the content as being far beneath my superior standards. — Paul McCannibal

    I would be very curious to find out which comedies meet his “superior standards”.

    (I’m trying to give the benefit of the doubt here, as he certainly can’t be playing the “my sense of humor is better than that of others” card.)

    • The Woman In Black

      Not trying to speak for Paul, but I’m pretty sure he’s playing the “sarcasm” card.

      One thing I appreciate about this site is that we try not to pigeonhole our reviewers into just writing about the types of films they like. Otherwise, Butane would only review werewolf films, Creepy would be limited to zombies, and I’d always tackle the vamp tales. Making sure that everyone gets a fair shake at all the various genres keeps it fresh and unpredictable. And none of us is shy about disagreeing with our fellow reviewers and adding our own comments to their critiques. And you readers are always welcome to chime in as well. To me, it’s the best of all worlds.

  • JD Fitch

    Man, that review was pitiful. And I’m being kind calling it a review — it read more like a blog entry. “I. Me. Mine. More about me. Did I mention me? Oh yeah, movie sucked. Back to me.” You know you’re in trouble when the flick in question doesn’t figure in till the SEVENTH paragraph…

  • Blockbuster

    Stupid Sexy Evil Andy! I mean Flanders!…

  • Johnny Butane

    When the DVD is ready, we promise to have someone who likes the movie review it. Fair enough? Personally I thik Paul’s review simply because he’s not hiding any reasons why he didn’t like it. And he was only “asked” to review it because he’s covering Fantasia solo this year. I’m sure Evil Andy woulda dug it more, but he’s in hiding.

    • Rorschach

      That’s not at all what I meant. What I was trying to say was that when a guy comes right out and says “I HATE THIS TYPE OF MOVIE, AND I KNEW IT WAS GOING TO BE SHITTY GOING IN”, that right there tells you it really wasn’t a fair review.

      It’s akin to asking a Ladies Home Journal critic to review MASTERS OF HORROR. You’re going to get a biased review, because that particular person doesn’t care for horror. Now just imagine if that review was all you had to go on? Would that be fair to the MASTERS OF HORROR series, if it were ONLY reviewed by someone who’s not the target demographic?

      Look, in his book YOUR MOVIE SUCKS, Roger Ebert reviews ELLA ENCHANTED, and going into the review, he openly admits that the review will be a bit biased, since he is not the film’s target audience. But, having said that, at least HE went into the movie with an open mind, and gave it fair shake, all things considered, which is more than it seems Paul did with his experience and review.

      I don’t even know WHY I care so much about this, I guess it’s because I hate to see a movie not getting a fair shake here.

      And again, I’m not saying that every review HAS to be done by someone who is going to gush over the film because it’s their favorite sub-genre or whatever. But when someone just plain detests a certain genre, and they land films from that genre that’s like having a “Best Pumpkin Pie” contest with a judge who believes that PIE is beneath him. No one is going to get a fair shake out of that deal.

      • Uncle Creepy

        To be fair, I’ve seen movies in genres that I’ve hated BUT if they were good enough, if something happened that elevated their game a bit, I still ended up liking them and gave them favorable reviews. Apparently this didn’t happen for Paul, but you can’t really judge until you’ve seen the movie for yourself, ya know? Your own opinions are always the best reviews.

        Hell, I still get shit for liking Tamara! LOL

  • Rorschach

    I’m right there with ya, Frank. The minute I read the part about Canon/New Line, I was thinking, “Man, so that must mean I am going to dig the HELL out of THIS movie!”.

    And I’m not going to call you a jerk, Paul….I will however say that DreadCentral has done a disservice to JACK BROOKS by having you review it. It’s one thing when someone like Creepy or Foy gets a stinker in their video pull list….but it’s quite another to ask someone who’s not a fan of a certain genre to review films from that genre. I think DC owes it to JACK BROOKS to have someone else give it an unbiased review, personally.

    I mean, not to slam you or anything…. any time someone is asked to review a genre of movie they don’t like, they’re going to be down on the film from the get-go. Heck, you’d run into the same thing if you asked me to review SEX AND THE CITY. I’d be pissed at having to sit through it from the start, so the film would be in the negative star range right out of the gates. Is that fair to SEX AND THE CITY? No, because the opinion being given will be from someone who absolutely HATES the show, and hated the film without even seeing one frame of it.

    But I digress.

  • frank_dracman

    Man, I’m so looking forward to this movie. I agree with you on the whole “broad American” comedy thing. can’t stands ’em. But I do have a slightly enlarged sense of humor. When you said from “companies like Cannon or New Line” I got a big stupid smile on my face. I’m a sucker for stupid crap like that. If this is even a little like those 80’s horror/comedies, I’ll drink it up. Like a milkshake. You could be right on the money with your review, but I don’t know your tastes as well as the other reviewers here.
    So where’s this party? I brought cake!