Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer is, to date, the toughest review I’ve written. Of course, I’ve only done a few on this blog so far, but I’ve made my opinion heard on the Internet for years now, just in different places and with little to no regularity. Monster Slayer has me perplexed beyond belief though. So I’m going to be winging this one a little bit, formulating my ultimate decision as I go along. Here we go.
We start off with a cyclops monster encounter in a jungle in a undisclosed foreign country. The natives are getting there asses handed to them, but they seem to have a hero in a small hut, that they are waiting to emerge and save them. We now jump all over the time line, to Jack Brooks teenage years, to his childhood in a somewhat disturbing but effective scene showing how he lost his family to a monster in the woods one night, and how that changed him forever.
Jack Brooks confusing (because of the illogical and random jumps in time showing him at different ages) background story was important to tell though, because that night his family bit the dust, was the night he got his power, which is his uncontrollable temper and raging anger.
Now we are at *almost* present day, (the first sequence in the jungle, with the natives, turns out to be present day, as Jack is the hero in the hut) and Jack Brooks is attending a night class with his girlfriend. Science to be exact. His teacher? Robert Englund. Freddy himself. And then the movie slows down the pace to an almost unbelievably slow crawl.
Long (and confusing) story short, Professor Crowley (yeah, the movie went there) finds a heart buried in his yard after Jack, a plumber, does some work for him and disrupts a pipe and some dirt. It takes him over,and for a few nights of the class, he begins to look sicker and sicker and act very strange.
There’s comedy spots in the movie, although the tone of the movie, which is a lot more serious than I was prepared for, muffles the funny bits down. If the jokes were played more upbeat, more like Evil Dead 2, they might of been funnier, but director Jon Knautz just doesn’t seem to want to give up to making the story of his hero laugh out loud funny. The exception being Howard in the hardware store, who is downright hysterical, mainly because of his superb role as the “wise-ass,old story-teller guy” that you have to have in these kind monster mash movies.
On that note, the cast should be commended on their work, especially since we go almost an entire hour where we the audience rely heavily on their acting to get us through to what we are assured will be a delightful beat down once we get to into the third and last stanza. Trevor Matthews is convincing as our tormented hero, Rachel Skarsten is perfect as the bitchy, annoying, “has to go” girlfriend, and Englund plays the quirky science teacher to a T, who falls victim to this demonic heart and becomes an unwilling carrier of its evil.
The make-up and special effects are all stellar, and you will find no CGI in this film. Unfortunately, besides the heavy amount of full body suits and make up in the very beginning of the movie and in the last 20 minutes, we don’t get to see those special effects enough. The gore level also begged to upped substantially. More monsters popping up throughout the film would’ve have made that brutal middle piece where thing seems to be moving in slow motion much more bearable.
The finale is satisfying though. Actually, it ties things up so nicely that it almost makes up for every other grievance I have with the flick. Lets just say that Jack does indeed find the perfect use for his anger, and that the door is not only left wide open for this to turn into the next big horror series, the door is propped open with a brick. The character transforms in the final act, and I for one wanted to see more of this version of Jack. In him, I saw a lot of “Ash” from the evil dead series, if Ash were to ever take his penchant for killing monsters and make a life calling out of it.
So where do I stand? Should you or shouldn’t you? Yes, you should, if only for the fact that you want to be there at ground zero for what could be the next big thing in horror. The acting is above-par for direct to dvd horror releases like this. The special effects and great climax make up for a slow build and a confusing beginning, but just barely. Knautz has to work on his pacing, but his directing of action and monster scenes is already pretty spot on.
Hunt this one down for a retro creature feature fix, and keeps your eyes peeled to be hearing from Jack Brooks again sometime in the near future.