This time, I wanted to pick an older title, but not quite old enough to be considered “Classic”. Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer was released in 2007 and is a great little movie.
The film was written and Directed by Jon Knautz, who does a great job building a unique, monster-filled universe. It’s also great that all of the monster effects are practical. Knautz’ direction in Jack Brooks is at times bleak and frantic but switches to a bit of a lighter tone during some scenes. It never seems off balance though, because the tone shifts work with the progression of the film. I really have to hand it to the effects crew for pulling off the stuff they did. There’s quite a bit of puppetry, animatronic work and makeup effects. Also, all of the creature designs are distinct and original, something you don’t always get with a low budget horror film. The plot revolves around our titular hero, played by Trevor Matthews, who is a plumber going to night school. We also learn that he has severe anger problems because of a traumatic experience he had as a kid. Trevor Matthews does a great job portraying the character, to the point where I wouldn’t be surprised if he based a lot of Jack on himself. The next notable name in JBMS is Robert Englund. Englund plays Professor Gordon Crowley, who goes from a kind and enthusiastic science professor to, well, you’ll see. I really enjoyed seeing him show this range, as a gradual transformation unfolds on screen. Englund even shows off quite a bit of comedic physical acting, bouncing around, trying to find more food to eat. The design of Crowley’s final form was also something I was really impressed with. I laughed quite a bit during these scenes, as I’m sure was the intention. When Jack finally gets to the point where he steps up to fight this menace, we see him embrace his anger, with killing monsters becoming a form of therapy for him. It’s interesting to apply that attribute to a protagonist, I think it made him more relatable and, ultimately, a more memorable character. I don’t think this movie got as much attention as it deserved and I would have loved to see this universe continue in some way. Sadly, it never went any further than this movie.
Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer is available on DVD and Blu-Ray.