He Never Died (2015)

He Never Died is a welcome dose of quirky humour. It’s hardly a comedy, but an enjoyable, questionably strange bloody horror drawing out the gloomy side of eternal loneliness.

Jack, a social pariah, is reluctantly thrust out of his comfort zone to save his daughter from mafia clutches. As the outside world bangs on his front door, Jack struggles to contain his violent past.

Jason Krawczyk melds elements of crime, revenge, supernatural and dry comedy in this bizarre movie. The dark bloody humour is so deliciously deadpan and incredibly subtle that you might not realise it is there for the first half of the film. It took me awhile to figure out if I really loved or hated this film. But, as the movie proceeds the winking undercurrent becomes more pronounced, all you need to hear is Jack (Henry Rollins) relay his very long list of previous jobs.

Though the title acknowledges Jack’s immortality, the film is coy about its nature. The slow moving action and odd sense of humour may catch some audiences off guard. But, for those who can enjoy putting their plausibility aside, will relish in the raucousness of the film and be rewarded with giddy gore.

He Never Died is just plain weird and performances don’t come more deadpan in this original, sternly charming horror.

7.0 / 10

“So… the Civil War, what was that like?” 

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Z for Zachariah (2015)

Z for Zachariah is a beautifully captured humanised post apocalyptic drama. At times promising, this slow burner feels too dramatically slight for its ambitions, and an ending that’s too abrupt.

Set in the aftermath of an unspecified decline, pockets of radiation have wiped out most of civilization, bar a young woman who finds herself suddenly in the presence of two men and a complicated love triangle.

Craig Zobel’s post apocalyptic tale focuses not on the event itself, but the human story of picking up the pieces in the aftermath. This Garden of Eden like story enforces the themes of religion vs science, it asks how people recalibrate their sense of morality.

Z for Zachariah is tastefully dull. The gorgeous atmospheric scenery is visually captivating and there are fine performances from the three sole characters. Margot Robbie is gentle and understated, but the complicated love triangle between herself and Chiwetel Ejiofor’s, Loomis, a man of science, and Chris Pine’s, Caleb, our figurative serpent, lacks any real end passion or heat.

Evidently, this two Adam’s and Eve tale is missing any real quintessential vivacity and instead is a psychodrama about really, really nice people. Leading to an ending that is left to your own interpretation, for me this was a deal breaker, as its vague conclusion leaves an unsatisfied sour taste and too many burning questions.

Unfortunately, Z for Zachariah’s shortcomings outweighs it strengths. While it is exceptionally photographed, the ambiguity is thin on depth and entertainment value.

5.0 / 10

“This valley survived like you and I did because we have faith”