Few filmmakers have the artistic ability, let alone bravery, to create an intimate, and innovative take on a traditional genre but also make it accessible without spoon-feeding its audience. It’s a rare talent to bridge the simple and complex without coming off as too broad or too shallow, but novice indie writer/director Jason Krawczyk seems to have this gift. In his follow up directorial effort, He Never Died, Jason throws us into a melting pot of awesomeness, presenting a religious horror crime monster revenge film, hemmed in by a simple story structure and great characters. This film is ambition meets execution, and well worth the watch. Hey Netflix – you should greenlight this badass film into a series!
Punk rock iconoclast Henry Rollins plays Jack, a depressed immortal with a predisposition for cannibalism. Haunted by his savage nature, Jack has sworn off human flesh and has become a creature of habit; gulping down black market blood packets in between games of church bingo. Save for the few times a day when he gets to see Clara (Kate Greenhouse) the waitress of his dreams, he is coasting through existence. That is until his perky daughter Andrea (Jordan Todosey) shows up, and draws Jack out of his shell but while also putting his sobriety into jeopardy. Things get even more complicated when revenge seeking mobsters kidnap Andrea and threaten to kill her. Jack must now fight to keep his cannibalistic sobriety intact while also keeping those closest to him safe from his literal inner demon. A dynamic horror dramedy, HE NEVER DIED is one of those peculiar films that in the end will have you saying, “What the fuck just happened?” with a wide grin stretched across your face.
Funny but not overbearing – heightening the horror by providing relief instead of detracting from it – richly dramatic, and featuring a deadpan, stoic protagonist with tons of heart, this film really speaks to the steady hand craftsmanship of Jason Krawczyk. He lives in the intricate details of the story world and its respective characters, and beautifully uses cannibalism and mobsters as center pieces to allow himself to explore ethereal concepts such as loneliness, addiction and the emotional mortality of immortals.
The leading performances of Henry Rollins and Kate Greenhouse perfectly embody the films darkly comedic charm while also showcasing its depth and vulnerability in a realistic manner. Black Flag frontman Rollins especially breaks new grounds here taking the lead role and running with it – perfectly wearing the burden of a lifetime of memories without being overly moody. But Kate though, is the real story. She runs the gambit of emotions and perfectly portrays the reaction of discovering someone is immortal, so keep an eye out for her.
Though the plotted narrative is simple and somewhat underdeveloped – status quo save daughter from the mob crime film – the story world and its characters engage and engulf your imagination with an almost pick your own adventure RPG style. And the dialogue is absolutely stupendous.
But what’s really great about Jason Krawczyk’s He Never Died is that it speaks to a deeper question. That perceptual choice we all face of seeing who we are as either a blessing or a curse, and how in answering that, we come to terms with our limitations. In Jack we see a man who can never die and yet no longer lives and how he struggles with his desire to be one thing and his reality that he is another thing. We understand the challenges of addiction, regret and isolation, and feel for such a tortured protagonist who despite having been cursed has inflicted much of this pain on himself. This film is bold, challenging, bloody and well worth your time. Check it out!