Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer (2007)
All work and no RAGE makes Jack a dull boy
Sometimes, watching a lot of movies like I tend to do, you stumble across some pretty off the wall movies. Imagine me, scrolling through all these different titles, when I come across something named Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer , and see the name Robert Englund attached. Yeah, my interest was piqued. What appeared to be classic suit-based monsters, a hero who's just bursting with rage, and the Nightmare on Elm? Oh yeah, I jumped right in!
Jack Brooks (Trevor Matthews) was a normal kid like any other, until on one fateful family camping trip, a monster just so happens to make a late-night snack out of his entire family, with only him escaping. From then on, Jack has a bit of an anger management issue, leading to him not just being mad, but almost seemingly at random exploding in full on rage. He seeks help from a professional, yet it still seems to not be helping. He's got a girlfriend (who he thinks he hates), works as a plumber, and even attends a late night Science class (taught by Englund himself).
It all seems like a rather mundane story (well, except the monster eating his family), until Jack goes to help the professor with some plumbing issues (that bursts a pipe) and Jack has to hold off finishing until a replacement part can be obtained. Luck, however, isn't on the professor's side, as the burst pipe causes an evil mist to seep out of the ground, drawing the professor to an ancient and very evil artifact...
Monsters in the movie are done in a classical manner - full on suits, none of the modern CG hoo-ha. This leads to a charming believability, both in motion and aesthetic design, which we sometimes lose out on in computer-heavy films. Although the story itself is deeply rooted in monsters, there is actually a good deal of the film that builds up to them, helping to make the final (grotesque) reveal feel so much more gratifying then something like, say, a zombie movie. That being said, some of these things (and the other effects involved) are pretty disgusting, and it is possible that not everyone is gonna stomach them as well as others.
The main character is the primary one we care about here, as everything deals with him (as the title would imply), but thanks to his backstory and issues of rage, he becomes much more real and fleshed out than other movies I have scene. When his professional counselor finally tells him that his rage might be resulting from the feeling of despair and not being able to do anything but run during the night his family was murdered, he acts like one would expect - with more anger and disbelief. Later on, when the words and understanding finally come to him, he again reacts in a manner that befits his character, and it makes it a lot easier to root for him than someone who might just be an angry jerk.
The supporting cast - although not nearly as fleshed out - are wonderful as well. By the end of the movie, we end up absolutely hating his annoying jerk of a girlfriend and sympathizing a bit with the frustrated counselor who just wants to help Jack (even though Jack is such a hard person to try and help). When the entire backstory of the artifact found by the professor is laid bare to us by an old man working the counter of the parts store, it feels as though we are sitting around a campfire and being told a story - and the character himself is just charming as heck, leaving me to picture an old John Wayne-esque man.
Acting here is definitely over the top in many places, and it's an exaggeration of characters that I believe to be done entirely on purpose. That being said, lines are delivered well and understandably, and the music never really causes issues - in fact, I barely noticed music through most of the movie and can't remember just how much of it there actually was. That's not to be too surprised about - a good soundtrack is meant to not override the movie after all, just to help you get into it more.
So there's some violence, some pretty nasty monsters, swearing, and two dogs die (both off-screen, one of which is shown being eaten). Of all of those things, I assume that the dog deaths will be the most "I won't watch this movie" of everything, as nobody likes seeing them die (even I didn't necessarily enjoy the parts, but they do work well within the movie so it at least isn't unjustified entirely). Beyond that, its an amazingly charming movie, with a realistic feel to events that obviously are not very real and some pretty fun characters. I enjoyed it, if your into these kind of movies I would recommend it (assuming you can get over the dog thing), and if you listen to the recommendation I know you will have a great time with Jack Brooks and his rage-filled monster flick.