So as a kid, you witness your family’s slaughter during a camping trip. If the perpetrator was a criminal, you become a crime fighter like Batman; if it was a big hairy Forest Troll, you become a monster slayer like Jack Brooks.
Jack (Trevor Matthews) was never the same after watching his family brutally murdered. Now an adult, Jack’s a plumber with some serious anger management issues and his shrink’s advice is not working. His compatibility with his girlfriend (Rachel Skarsten) is questionable; nonetheless, he grudgingly attends night classes with her a couple of times a week. Professor Crowley (Robert Englund) is a decent guy though and gives Jack a job in exchange for a passing grade. Unfortunately, they unleash an ancient evil in the form of a black, beating heart and it possesses Crowley. Things (i.e. he) get ugly pretty quickly.
The filmmakers list the Evil Dead series as a major influence and it shows. The monster effects are very similar in style (over-the-top and gory) and the script plays for laughs as much as it does for scares (if not more). The possession theme, narrative bookends, audacious male hero and knowledgeable elder (David Fox) also recall the classics and cult hits that precede it.
Matthews’ Jack is short-tempered, clever and cocksure – designed to become this generation’s Ash. Englund is presented the opportunity to participate in some physical comedy, which he indulges in wholeheartedly, making this by far one of his funniest roles in years. In addition, Fox’s turn as the hardware owner and raconteur of legends is captivatingly scene-stealing.
Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer is a fun ride and one of the most authentic and enjoyable throwbacks to horror flicks of the ‘80s, which is a welcome change after the proliferation of torture porn in recent years.
This film is the birth of Jack Brooks; and with the promise of a more action-packed sequel, it is also the start of a very promising franchise.
Jack Brooks is an independently financed Canadian film, shot in Ottawa.