Jack is a loner, only venturing out of his flat to play bingo at the local church hall, eat alone at the local diner or to buy mysterious white bags from a medical student’s car boot. He wanders through his existence quietly throwing deadpan looks at the people he meets and passing blunt, dry-witted comments. However, his world is thrown into chaos when his daughter comes to stay and the violent past he tries so hard to contain suddenly comes back to haunt him.
Not being very knowledgeable about Henry Rollins beyond his turn in Lynch’s Lost Highway and having a passing recollection of his punk past I can’t say I was all that interested in seeing Jason Krawcyzk’s film. However following good word of mouth I gave it a chance and was pleasantly surprised. It’s very good. From the opening scene it’s apparent that Jack is an angel of some kind and through aural cues on the soundtrack we gradually learn that he is battling inner demons towards mankind that explains his isolating behaviour. Throughout the film Rollins plays Jack for black comedic laughs and it works brilliantly as his contact with the outside world becomes progressively more frequent and violent. The scenes with his daughter suggest a violence bubbling just underneath his deadpan exterior, whilst his meetings with the diner waitress brim with romantic possibility but his austistic-like persona hinders any chance of her feelings ever being fully reciprocated.
He Never Died is like an extended episode of Supernatural but with a darker, more cynical edge. Whether you find that a good thing depends on how much you like your theological battles peppered with dry, sarcasm a la Brothers Winchester. For horror fans, there are some scenes of graphic blood and violence as the murkier characters of the city start to come after Jack and those around him, and for Rollins fans you get to see him playing against type. The best way to experience Krawcyzk’s film is by knowing as little as possible so I’ll say no more other than Go See It!