Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer Jon Knautz

Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer Jon Knautz
Taking it back to the days of Harryhausen and ’80s splatter gore, Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer is an unabashed throwback filled with cheap thrills bent on achieving immediate cult status amongst horror aficionados. Jack (Trevor Matthews) is your average, everyday plumber who after witnessing the slaughter of his family by a monster, begins to experience violent fits of rage whenever he becomes irked. One night while working on a job for his professor, Mr. Crowley (Robert Englund), Jack accidentally cracks open a pipe that leaks out an evil that overtakes Crowley’s body, slowly turning him into a fat, student-eating, tentacled blob. In order to save his class, Jack is forced to channel the rage born of his haunted past to slay the monster and its zombie spawn before all hell breaks loose. Made on a modest budget in Ottawa, Knautz’s old school approach wins him strong marks for making the best of his restrictions, however the movie is an undeniable disappointment, felt most in Knautz and John Ainslie’s script. A character like Jack has plenty of potential to become a hero worthy of sequel exploitation, however the screenwriters missed out on the opportunity, waiting until the last ten minutes to develop Jack’s personality and let him channel his inner slayer. Unfortunately, until these ten minutes it’s a chore sitting through the missed jokes, the slow building climax and the incompetent cast clumsily delivering their lines. Where Knautz succeeds best is with his monsters; though they’re given miniscule screen time, his effects crew steal the show for their professional-looking demons — the Englund blob looks as good as, if not better than, any of Elm Street’s "Freddy monsters.” Thankfully, there’s a well-made featurette to show the tireless make-up artists and effects wizards building their creations without the use of CGI. A look behind the scenes is what informed me that what I was watching was actually Canadian (I honestly assumed it was American), showing how they made a YMCA camp in Ottawa resemble South Africa. Some deleted scenes add little and the commentary by the director, producers and Matthews is mostly a self-deprecating affair, as the group point out how they spelled the word "counsellor” wrong (councillor) and wrote a "semi-crappy story.” No arguments there. (Kinosmith)