Jason Krawczyk’s He Never Died

Henry Rollins screams out energetically from the not so subtle DVD artwork of He Never Died making the film appear to be a loud, obnoxious “rocker does a horror flick” type deal. I mean, it is technically that but Rollins is a great actor independent of his musical career and this film is far quieter, more muted and meandering than that melodramatic, operatic poster seems. Henry is Jack, a tired, very stoic and reserved fellow who, as we gradually learn, is in fact some sort of immortal angel, demon or other biblical figure who has been obligated to walk the earth since the very dawn of time, forced to feed on humans to retain his life force. These days he hangs around nocturnal Toronto doing not much of anything except attending an all night diner where the waitress (Kate Greenhouse) flirts with him, protecting the daughter (Jordan Todosey) of a former (brief) flame from dark forces, employing a hospital intern (Booboo Stewart) who provides him with blood bags and generally just moping about trying to kill time until a life resolution he’s not sure will ever come. Most of the people in his life aren’t content with leaving him alone though, so we have a series of darkly comic, noir tinged misadventures when several mob factions target him for murky reasons, he plays a lot of bingo, beats up a lot of dudes, tries his best to protect the waitress and his friend’s kid if only by default or boredom and just sort of… exists at a dull roar. Rollins is such an interesting dude in terms of character and charisma, not to mention that imposing hewn granite frame and intense obsidian glare. He adopts a hilariously stoic persona here, absolutely unflappably impassive until he gets to the end of his rope and sparks fly, it’s a terrific performance and one of the rare showcase lead roles he’s been gifted. Like I said, this isn’t at all like the posters suggest, it’s a lot more like a laidback ‘hang out’ type film with just a vague flavour of horror and a zig-zaggy feel to it that’s a lot of fun, provided you’re in the mood for something mellow, loose and experimental that doesn’t have very high plot ambitions and is more content to cruise along in neutral with the occasional blast of nitrous when it’s characters feel like getting frisky. Good times.

-Nate Hill