Jack Brooks Monster Slayer Review
Written by: Tim Hannigan
The good folks at Rue Morgue brought another amazing horror treat to the Bloor Cinema in Toronto as part of their Cinemacabre Movie Nights – Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer. Not only did they have the film but also had the filmmakers and cast in attendance including one of the genre’s most recognized and loved actors – Mr. Robert Englund himself! [Note: Next month they will be screening Midnight Meat Train at the Bloor which I understand will be the ONLY Canadian screening of the film given that the suits believe the film is too intense for a theatrical release].
Jack Brooks [Trevor Matthews] was an average kid happily enjoying his childhood until one night his parents and little sister are savagely attacked and killed by a monster on a camping trip. Instead of helping his family, Jack runs away, leaving them to die. After the incident Jack develops a bit of an anger-control problem and is unable to find any constructive outlets for his fits of rage.
As an adult, Jack spends his days working as a plumber, and his evenings going to night school where he and his judgmental girlfriend attend a science course taught by Professor Crowley [Robert Englund]. He also attends sessions with a counselor trying to deal with his aggression and various issues in his life.
One night Jack tries to earn some extra credit by trying to fix a plumbing problem at the creepy old house purchased by Professor Crowley. The house is plagued not only by blocked pipes, but something which seems to want to get out of the ground. After Jack leaves, Professor Crowley discovers something in his back yard and ends up possessed with a demonic force which gradually transforms him into a hideous creature. Jack begins to learn about the history of Crowley’s house through an old-timer who runs the plumbing section at the hardware store (one of the funniest characters in the entire film) and, as all hell brakes loose one night in class, Jack is faced with the decision to run once again, or step up and put his anger to use in battling the creature and its minions of classmates transformed into demons (a decision which may be blatantly obvious given the film’s title).
Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer is a very funny and highly entertaining horror film. It very successfully finds the sweet spot where you can be laughing and totally disgusted at the same time. It captures the spirit of great 80s films like Evil Dead 2 without descending into blatant rip-off territory.
The acting is terrific, with a very good performance by Kanata Ontario native Matthews as the lead character who does a great job carrying the film and making the audience feel for the 20-something slacker.
Englund is absolutely amazing in this film. He shows that he is an excellent physical comedian during the slow transformation from mild-mannered professor to a demon converting creature in really needs to get that Jenny Craig number from Valerie Bertinelli.
Ottawa-native (that’s right – the Canadians are coming!) John Knautz who directed and co-wrote the film demonstrates a deep love and understanding of the genre in the way the film is executed.
And, of course, when you have the word “monster” in the title, you set the bar high for creature devotees who have high standards and low tolerance for poor effects. Once again, this film delivers the goods. This is good old-fashioned make-up effects, including human actors in monster make-up. That’s right – NO CG bullshit!!!! I’m not sure if anyone in Hollyweird pays attention but make-up artists are ARTISTS, and fans deserve real make-up effects. It’s amazing to see that some people aren’t afraid to make monsters the good old fashioned way!
Overall the movie is funny, frightening and freaking fantastic!