Reviewed 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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