There are not too many films that have a cannibal as a protagonist, and this is just one thing that sets writer/director Jason Krawczyk’s He Never Died apart from other horror films, actually, calling this a horror film is way too limiting as it’s also a dark comedy, a crime thriller and even a little bit of a love story, but what it truly great about this film is the tour de force performance from Henry Rollins in his first starring role.
Jack (Henry Rollins) lives a regimented life; he has a routine that he follows that keeps him from falling off the wagon and succumbing to his hunger, the hunger for human flesh. Does this mean Jack is some deranged serial killer trying to live the straight and narrow life? If only it was that simple. Jack is able to keep his hunger at bay by drinking blood provided by hospital intern Jeremy (Booboo Stewart) but when local mobsters looking for Jeremy try to interrogate Jack things get a bit messy.
Turns out Jack is a very tough customer; punch, stab or shoot him and he gives almost no reaction other than to return violence in kind, but his retaliations are not from anger more akin to bored frustration. Jack has been around for a long time and he’s done and felt everything at one time or another. Rollin’s Jack makes the typical laconic John Wayne character seem absolutely gregarious and his deadpan delivery and the world-weary look is what drives the film’s comedy. When later Jack sees those selfsame mobsters abduct Jeremy he steals a post office truck to follow them, but his motive is to retrieve the blood Jeremy was bringing him, the rescue of the intern is secondary and of almost no importance to Jack.
Rent-a-Thugs and threats to his blood supply isn’t the only thing upsetting his routine as one night he receives of a phone call from an ex-girlfriend who informs him that he has a daughter named Andrea (Jordan Todosey) who is out drinking and she is worried that she will try to drive home, and she wants Jack to go out and get her. Jack eventually finds her and though he is not really father material Andrea “Vaginas are like coupon books for alcohol” is certainly not your typical girl next door, yet they actually have quite good chemistry together, and Andrea even tries to help Jack with his non-existent love life.
This possible love interest is Cara (Kate Greenhouse), a waitress with a crush on Jack that he seems completely oblivious to. Sadly father/daughter bonding and dating get put on hold when the mob continue to escalate things in their battle with Jack, and when they kidnap Andrea after murdering her mother we are thinking “Shit is just about to get real” but Jack barely reacts to the information, and doesn’t even show up at the docks where he is told to come “And no cops” or she will be killed. Jack is not the stoic hero who will ride in to save the day, at one point he tells the villain “I’ve killed nine-year-olds for no reason. What makes you think you have a chance?” That isn’t something even your baddest anti-hero would claim, and when Jack says it, you know it to be true.
What is Jack’s secret, how can he survive multiple gunshots to the head? I won’t spoil it here but let’s just say that when Cara finds a picture of Jack from 1914 France she asks him how old he is and his response is, “I have no idea, but I’m in the Bible if that means anything.” Will Jack save Andrea? Can Cara consider dating a man who can pull bullets out of his head with a pair of pliers? And just who in the hell is Jack? The movie does answer a couple of questions concerning Jack’s past yet it leaves much more open, but I expect we will learn more if the mini-series that is planned eventually airs. He Never Died is violent gore-fueled story that will have many a viewer squirming in their seats and peeking out between their fingers. The open ending we get may disappoint some people but it just makes me eager to see the return of Henry Rollins as Jack.
He Never Died (2015)
Jason Krawczyk has created a fascinating and very dark character and Henry Rollins perfectly embodies this bizarre taciturn persona. I can’t wait to see more.