Written and directed by Jason Krawczyk He Never Died stars Henry Rollins (Sons of Anarchy, Con Man) and while it is publicized as a dramedy/thriller, it feels more like a supernatural drama without the thriller and the comedy is of the blackest sort. The film is dark and odd and one of those features that is impossible to stop watching.
Rollins, whom I’d never seen before a couple of episodes of Stitchers and Alan Tudyk‘s Con Man, plays “Jack” and this quiet man, who never leaves his apartment except for food, hides a mysterious past and has a penchant for doing violence to people who vex him.
Jack’s daughter Andrea (Jordan Todosey) stops by but does not stay and Jack has his supply interrupted when his deliveryman is kidnapped. Andrea’s mother asks that he pick her up from a bar and the two attempt to bond.
There is a sort of “love interest” in the waitress Cara (Kate Greenhouse) and the local villain is played by Steven Ogg. As the film progresses we learn that Jack is a morose and incredibly bored chap. Hints to his past crop up here and there and it appears that the man has been around a very long time.
Andrea: So… the civil war, what was that like?
Jack: I don’t know, I was in china…
Jack has been around so long in fact that he is beyond jaded and last had sex when Andrea was conceived. His daughter is around 19 and not a poster child for sobriety or polite conversation:
Andrea: I, uh, don’t have money, so…
Jack: Then, how did you end up inebriated?
Andrea: Vaginas are like coupon books for alcohol.
He Never Died is amusing and Rollins is picture perfect as the character who has been on the earth practically since it’s birth and is patently bored out of his mind. Nothing motivates him until his blood supply is stopped, he also does not get overly excited about Andrea being kidnapped and threatened with death.
Perhaps the most comic bits have to do with Rollins’ deadpan delivery, only broken a few times, and his equally monotonous reaction to the violence perpetrated against his character. Despite being an immortal Jack bleeds and bullets damage him. He is immensely strong and the only thing to drop him in his tracks is poison, although that is not fatal.
Todosey make an interesting double act for some of the film and the “romance” between Greenhouse’s character and Jack is amusingly unrequited. The film shows that Jack is just not interested in people, sex, or relationships.
While we learn that Jack is pretty much indestructible (although he can be hurt) and immortal, it is not until the last reel of the film that the revelation is made of who he actually is. That information is only made really clear after Jack rants at the Goatee Man (Don Francks) in Alex’s (Ogg) bar.
The film consists of long slow and oblique scenes which are intercut with violence. Jack drinks human blood because he is cursed to roam the land forever since his murdered his brother. Oddly, while Jack is meant to be Cain, there are signs that he once had wings that have been removed.
He Never Died is not a five star film. Krawczyk delivers an odd, quirky black comedy about the world’s first murderer and his eternal punishment. The film offers food for thought, if one looks for it, in that it seems to imply that Earth really is Hell.
It also feels as though the secret of Jack is in the sauce (blood) that he drinks to keep from munching on his neighbors. There are a few times that he does eat “meat” but only the odd individual is chomped up and this seems to be the bored and angry man’s attempt at atonement.
This is a 3.5 out of 5 stars, losing 1.5 for the storyline being so oblique that it looks ages for the backstory of Jack to sink in. Rollins kills it as the bored monster doomed to consume his fellow man and the rest of the cast perform well.
He Never Died is streaming on Netflix at the moment and worth a look. If for no other reason to se Rollins as a monster.