For artistic representation, Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer gets a near-perfect score, less so for its restrained sense of fun. Boasting better production values than the old-school B movies that inspired it, the film follows a mysterious black heart as it forcibly crawls into the body of the dude who played Freddy Kruger and how the subsequent catastrophe provokes a young man to grapple with the memory of what happened to his parents and sister when he was only a boy. The story takes place largely inside what appears to be a late-night vocational school whose depressing fluorescent lights seem to have been borrowed from an HIV clinic and whose floors become the platform from which plumber Jack Brooks (Trevor Matthews) launches his new career as a monster slayer. Even though Jack shows up late to class, Professor Crowley (Robert Englund) still asks the twentysomething hothead to help him with his pipes, which he does but not without unearthing the horror that will turn his nerdy science teacher into a barfing cousin of Jabba the Hut. “Every step is progress…at least you found the heart of the problem,” says Crowley long before his transformation, but because the line is delivered before we even know an actual heart figures into the plot of the movie, the joke doesn’t fly. Ditto the performances, half of which suggest natural homages to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, half cheekier hat-tippings to Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell. It’s all rather uneven and dull going until the ghoulies go on parade, with the film’s message boiling down quite literally and unimaginatively to Jack learning how deal with the demons in his past. Rick Baker would applaud the lovingly detailed monster effects, but you have to wonder how Monster Slayer would have played if the filmmakers had blown less of their load on a dry ice machine and more on story and establishing a more consistent tone.
- Jon Knautz
- Jon Knautz, John Ainslie
- Trevor Matthews, Robert Englund, Rachel Skarsten, David Fox, Stefanie Drummond, James A. Woods, Daniel Kash
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