If you’re looking for something a little different to occupy your weekend viewing, look no further than He Never Died, Henry Rollin’s dark, existential sci-fi film newly available for viewing on Netflix’s Instant Streaming service. Released in theaters and on VOD last December, I finally watched this film in January and it was an unexpected surprise. Sold as a horror film, I would describe it more as a story of a man living a solitary life who is forced back into the world despite wanting so desperately to remain uninvolved with anyone around him. Our main character, Jack (Henry Rollins), just so happens to also drink human blood, crave flesh, and can’t be killed. By the way, he’s also the angel Cain, but that’s more of a happenstance to the story and less of a plot-driver. From the trailer, I truly expected this to be filled with action and ridiculousness and found myself surprised by the quietness of the film, as well as Rollins’ intense performance.
Written and directed by Jason Krawczyk, this odd piece tells the story of Jack, a stoic man, who hates people and loves his routine: sleep, bingo at the local church, eggplant at the nearby diner, and sleep. All of this changes when his quiet life is interrupted by two separate, but equally troubling events: someone kidnaps his hospital connection for human blood and his daughter is kidnapped almost as soon as he meets her for the first time. Now, I know what you’re thinking – how could this possibly be interesting? That’s the intriguing part – on its surface, He Never Died should be a low-rent actioner, yet it’s surprisingly more like a supernatural mystery. Who is Jack? Why can’t he die? Why do people keep coming after him? Why doesn’t Jack care about any of this?
The only member of the cast of note is Rollins himself, who is completely charismatic, even when he’s not doing anything. His stillness still seems to vibrate with rage and frustration, as we wait to see what Jack does next. Rollins certainly isn’t your standard A-lister, but he’s no slouch as a performer. He’s had bit roles in various films throughout the years, and, as a former musician with Black Flag and a solo artist, he knows how to command a room. This talent is put to excellent use as Rollins’ quietly seething Jack reluctantly must take on thugs and gang leaders without so much as a quip, smile, or subtle hint of either acceptance or derision. Jack simply is and hates that he is. Everything else is a distraction from his routine.
So if you’re done with Daredevil and want to dive into something new and a little different, give He Never Died a try. It’s not the comedy or action film the trailer would have you believe, but it is a unique experience you won’t regret.
Final Score: 3 out of 5