Drug addiction seems to be a common fallback when it comes to subtext in the horror genre. Most recently it's been the vampire genre that runs rampant with the theme. However, Jason Krawczyk's latest flick, He Never Died, takes a bizarre standpoint on the issue at times is a brilliantly deadpan take on the action/drama/horror subgenre.
Henry Rollins stars as Jack, a socially awkward loner who, along with being bored with immortality, finds his quiet existence rocked when his past comes knocking at his door bringing with it the dark memories and consequences of said past. Rollins, puts in some of his finest work as an actor, yet somehow, it's still tough to take the man seriously when it comes to his dramatic chops. The rocker does however pull off the film's irreverent comedy by use of his deadpan delivery. It's not until he begins raising his voice that the pitfalls within the script rear their ugly heads and unravel much of the goodwill during the film's flimsy ill-conceived ending.
Krawczyk clearly has a handle on the filmmaking process. He Never Died looks great, has some very solid gore effects, and features some pretty diverse performances. When all is said and done though, the entire film feels inconsequential. Not to mention that the film's ending feels like a giant middle finger to the audience and a shameless plug for a sequel that probably will never happen. Open ended endings are nothing new to pretty much any genre in the industry, but He Never Died's wrap up feels rushed, sloppy, and lazy. It's a shame, considering that there's a bizarre sense of wonder going on with the mystery surrounding Jack as a character- although the poster for the film kind of unravels that fairly quick. Even still, the lackadaisical pacing in the middle betrays any sense of real closure that the film clearly could have been steering toward.
There's a strange amount of entertainment to be had watching Henry Rollins growl at foes, sneer angrily in people's directions, stare blankly at nothing while people punch him repeatedly in the face or shoot him in the head at point blank to no effect. The sudden and graphic bursts of gore add to some of the bizarre dark comedy at play, but surprisingly works with what is sometimes a somber tone. However, unfocused pacing, a light script, and a half-baked ending all but put He Never Died in a shallow grave.