He Never Died (2015) **1/2
D: Jason Krawczyk
C: Henry Rollins, Kate Greenhouse, Jordan Todosey, Steven Ogg, Booboo Stewart, Dan Petronijevic, James Cade, Michael Cram
Plot Synopsis: A social outcast embarks on a bloody quest to save his long-lost daughter from a crime syndicate.
Review: He Never Died starts out as a quirky little horror comedy that follows a social loner played by Henry Rollins. However, Rollins isn't your everyday loner. As it turns out, he's some sort of immortal being that sustains himself by feeding off of people, but since he's abstaining from killing people, he resorts to drinking blood from the local blood bank.
Part of what makes He Never Died so entertaining is seeing how out of touch Rollins' is with the rest of society in the way that he interacts with other people. Further hilarity ensures in seeing Rollins' trying to assimilate whether that's hanging out at Bingo halls or at a greasy diner. A plot complication, involving Rollins' trying to make sense of the daughter he never knew he had, provides additional comedic fodder.
However, things stop being fun when they try to explain how Rollins' character came to be. It's a heavy handed explanation that takes the material out of the comedy realm into dramatic territory. In this case, they should've left the origins of Rollins' character ambiguous, because it does nothing to further the story. In fact, it has the opposite affect. It takes what was an assured horror comedy and turns it into something preachy & moralistic as Rollins' character is held accountable for the life he has lead and the choices he has made.
Maintaining interest, even when things go astray, is Rollins. He turns in one of the best comedic performances in any horror ish film in recent memory. What makes Rollins' turn effective is that he doesn't try to mug for the camera or attempt to show you how funny he is. He plays the whacked out material in a serious, straight forward manner.
That makes the world of difference in terms of tone. To Rollins' character, what he does (outside of drinking blood) is normal to him. If what this character does is normal to him, then why would Rollins' ham it up? The restraint Rollins' shows in approaching his performance, from a place of normalcy, is what makes the comedy all the more effective.
Rollins is the glue that holds this together. The film loses its way, because they fail to understand that Rollins' inverted character is the strangeness that the rest of the world must contend with and not the other way around. [R] 99 minutes.
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