Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer (2007)
Buffy move over! There is a new slayer in town! Only he’s not a peppy 16-year-old cheerleader; he’s a surly plumber with anger management issues. Well two out of three isn’t bad…
I had a good feeling about this film when I first stumbled across it on one of my frequent internet trysts. When I finally got to see it, I was not disappointed.
The story centres around Jack Brooks (Trevor Matthews) whose life is a shambles. Juggling nagging girlfriend Eve (Rachel Skarsten), apathetic psychologist Dr Silverstein (Daniel Kash) and a dead end job have taken their toll and he exists in a state of abject misery; detached from everyone around him. Through a flashback layered with Jack’s narration we discover early in the film that he was once a happy, normal boy until one fateful vacation when a vicious monster emerged in their campsite and brutally savaged all his family leaving him as the sole survivor.
Left an orphan, Jack grows up with serious issues. He is prone to violent outbursts and fits of fury at the slightest provocation. During a night class that he has been encouraged to enrol in he is asked by the professor, Gordon Crowley (Robert Englund) if he would come and fix the boiler at his new house. The protagonist and antagonist are both in place; neither of which realising the role they will play.
The unfortunate and lovable Professor Crowley is possessed that same night by a mysterious fog and is coerced into digging up a wooden box that is buried in the back garden. Eager with anticipation he opens the box which contains some human remains and a still beating, black heart. When he is compelled to devour the heart he begins a transformation whilst still trying to maintain his normal duties. In class his behaviour becomes erratic and his appearance increasing dishevelled, alarming Jack and his fellow students.
Crowley eventually completes his mutation into a grim, tentacled monster and all hell breaks loose at the school. The students scatter but they are rounded up by errant tentacles and delivered back to the classroom and get a lesson in terror as the monster begins to turn the students, one by one, in to snarling beasts. As the odds stack up against him, Jack must find a way to utilise his anger kill the monster before he unleashes his growing army of evil on an unsuspecting public.
I cannot praise this film enough; it’s well crafted, extremely entertaining and well acted by both the main and supporting cast. Trevor Matthews gives a particularly stellar performance as Jack, which for me stands up with Bruce Campbell (of Evil Dead fame) as one of the best unconventional heroes ever committed to screen. I defy anyone to watch his brooding unpredictability and not fall a little bit in love with him. The legendary Robert Englund is always a welcome addition to any horror movie and I find myself resisting the urge to applaud every time he comes on screen. As always his character is well conceived and delivered impeccably.
The film juxtaposes horror and comedy; originality and cliché, which culminates in a wonderful, balanced experience. I pray that the long awaited sequel is made as this movie has finessed the recipe for success to near perfection. Mazel tov.