Robert Englund and Trevor Matthews star in this independent horror comedy that goes for the jugular, heart, and brain.
While the name hints at all the sledge-hammered nuance of other horror comedies, Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer
mines most of its humor from the troubled social graces of its title character, offering up subtle satire along with the blood-filled physical comedy.
Jack suffers from a common childhood trauma: his family was eaten by a monster. Ten years and countless fights later, he's in therapy, enduring a nagging girlfriend, and struggling to keep up with his single college class.Rachel Skarsten and Trevor Matthew play the hapless couple, destined for monster trouble.
When Jack's kindly teacher (played by the iconic Robert Englund) happens upon a demon heart in his backyard and does what any self respecting scientist would do (eats it with his bare hands), Jack must face his fears, using an assortment of plumbing tools to destroy is possessed professor and his minions.
This is an origin story, and while director Jon Knautz plans more action for future installments, this first chapter focuses on Jack Brooks as the pre-Monster Slayer. This is partly due to budget constraints; it's much cheaper to film clever dialog than oozing prosthetic monsters. But what Jack Brooks lacks in funds it makes up for in brain and talent.
Jack Brooks is played by Trevor Matthews, who also co-produced and co-wrote the screenplay. As Jack Brooks, his strongest moments are when he's venting at his laconic therapist or doing battle with a leaky pipe. His perpetual slacker shrug is the perfect disguise for his buried rage, and when he lashes out with random violence or long tirades, it's absolutely hilarious.Robert Englund as the soon-to-be-monster Professor Crowley.
The real show stealer is Robert Englund, who takes his physical comedy as seriously as Kenneth Branagh takes Shakespeare. As the hapless demon possessed nice-guy, Englund relishes in every drooling smile, every jilted step, every uncontrollable body part. Because of his direct ties to the Nightmare on Elm Street
franchise, Englund is often overlooked as a nuanced actor ... but his work in Jack Brooks is fantastic, detailed comedic gold.
Countering these comedic characters is a litany of bizarre monsters. David Scott designed the creatures, leaning on practical effects rather than glossy Mac-rendered CGI, and the result is tremendous. From an armor-clad cyclops to a Jabba-esque zombie slug, the critters in Jack Brooks are tactile, gross, and look, at times, surprisingly real.
While this fresman effort is a bit slow in the middle act, the superior acting, even from the secondary characters, and clever set pieces keep the story moving along. And in the final twenty minutes when the monster slaying really begins, the film delivers all the winces and laughs that the title promises. Speedy tentacles, zombies minions, slimy ovipositors, and lots and lots of blood.
MORE INFO:Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer
was produced by Brookstreet Pictures
, which is comprised of star Trevor Matthews, director Jon Knautz, and producer Patrick White. Together they’ve made five short films, the last two of which were under the Brookstreet banner, but Jack Brooks marks their first attempt at a feature length film. NOW PLAYING:Laemmle’s Sunset 5
8000 Sunset Blvd.