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Hank Boyd is Dead: A Rueful Review

Written by S.T. King

To my friends, countrymen…

As your governor, I’ll do my best to keep this brief. But I make you no promises. That’s just the way it is and I’m sorry. I simply have to talk about my experience – both among friends and business partners, alike. Thanks for coming.

Call me the mood. And I’m just as important as anyone else.

Okay, guy. We're all ears.

Okay, guy. We’re all ears.

Tell that to Sarah, our main heroine – if she can be called as such. And doesn’t the word heroine beg for so much more than the role of victim? It’s what she is, after all. A passerby mostly. A screambox who we’re forced to follow until she dies.

Tell that to David, our main bad guy –- and if David is his real name — he certainly looks like one. A hard brow. Convicted. I’ve heard the other reviewers. That his character is deep and complex. Not sure I agree. How complex is a douche? Not very.

The device, I mean.

Tell that to Aubrey, our co-antagonist. Though who can really be sure. That’s the beauty of it, isn’t it? The sandy blonde exterior, the school-girl – the quiet broken foot. The easily hurt and excitable. You always need one of those in one of these.

There are others here, of course, but already I’m getting tired.

So what happens, you think – if you take the before-mentioned archetypes, and you rend them together on broil in the neighborhood sauna? It sounds disturbing, if we’re talking the real world (who puts a “broil” setting on a sauna, anyway?). But the fantastical world is somewhat less susceptible. Say you open the door and all is gone but water vapor and a VHS tape?

Well, sweetheart – put it in. What the actual fuck are you waiting for?

Now for a song.

Who’s the guy you need to know when you’ve got a place to go?

What’s my name?

The Mood.

I’m here to help.

And I’m here from the beginning. Though I gotta be honest with you because I love you. I’d spent most of that time confused. Almost exclusively for your enjoyment

Laugh now. Do it.

Seriously.

Maybe, I’m not making much sense.

The film makes it slightly less cryptic. What I’m saying – not what it’s saying – and I say it like this because I want you here with me – utterly mystified — is that I don’t know what I want you to do: whether you laugh or pee yourself. I respect humanity. You fill in whatever you want in that coloring book of yours. Doesn’t change that that’s a unicorn.

I’m running out of time, aren’t I?

Very well. Let me get on with it, then.

Hank Boyd is Dead, supposedly, is a comedy of terrors. That is comedy, infused with terror. Portion and bigger portion. Entrée and vegetable side dish. With squash (I hate squash by the way).

I’m the mood, I told you. And I’m not funny. Nor did I laugh.

So maybe…

Hank Boyd is Dead is something else — a terror of comedy, perhaps?

I’ll explain now, I promise. I did this for a reason.

You don’t get credit for what you hoped for, after all. You get a kick in the ass for what you got.

And what you got here, I’m not really sure what it is.

I watched the film completely blind. That is, I didn’t do any surfing on the inter-webs, I didn’t phone my mother, who I consider somewhat of a connoisseur of deranged things, I hadn’t typed more than “Han” into google, because I’d been looking for the urban dictionary meaning of hanky panky, whose meaning was underwhelming to say the least. But I’ll tell you what I did do.  I reheated a Whopper that I’d purchased the night before with it’s papery French fries and a flat, watered down Coke. And I sat in front of my computer for the next hour or so, waiting to be affected. I ate the shit out that Whopper. So at least one thing went according to plan.

But those of you who know me probably know this is where I was going.

Now I’ll tell you why, why I didn’t care so much for the film.

Hey, stop it. You're wrinkling my shirt.

Hey, stop it. You’re wrinkling my shirt.

I’ll go ahead and rate it, too. Maybe you didn’t come here for all this anyway. I give Hank Boyd is Dead a solid red two out of five. That’s your pass.

There, if you want you can close this window and set sail. Onward and Godspeed to you, my friends.

Until next time.

For those of you who’ve stayed, however, there are cookies under your seats. Freshly baked. I encourage you to eat your absent neighbors’s first. Since they won’t be needing theirs any longer. And since I’d so precisely predicted who would leave prematurely. You’ll also find a glass of milk covered in fart-proof cellophane.

And it’s strange, too, because I did read the few reviews I could find, the few I could summon on a blood-spattered pentagram, as I normally do before cranking out my own — and one review, in particular, says about the movie, “that it (the movie) isn’t meant to be taken seriously”

And so I asked myself, “self, how do you rate a film that isn’t meant to be taken seriously – especially when it seems to take itself seriously.” I feel like I know a joke when I see one. A rubber chicken for example. One of those hand buzzers that click when someone shakes hands with you. Instant punchline.

The short answer? you recognize the good ones when you see them.

And I have faith in you, horror consumer, and you’re most gracious and divine. I’m sure you’d recognize a good one, if you’re being completely honest with yourself. The best comedy (to me, after all) isn’t so far from reality. Indeed, I’d be inclined to argue, when you got a good thing going, that reality and comedy work very closely together.  And here, I didn’t see any of that – whatsoever, I should add. And I’ll add it again.

I do this because I care.

“But, S.T.” say you. Yes please, I say. Give it to me – “But aren’t you being a prude and slightly rude?”

No, of course not, I say.

But I do appreciate your lyrical skills. You’re hot fire on the M.I.C. But whether we’re talking horror or comedy or some ungodly amalgamation of the two, regardless — the film – it falls flat on its face. It doesn’t work – through either lens. Not for me, at least.

And aren’t I entitled to my slightly true opinion.

It could work though, I think, under a few nominal conditions.

If the characters, (while adequate as actors) were working on the same movie, I think the experience would be enhanced one-hundred-tenfold. That is, I don’t get a good sense of cohesion or chemistry, a real sense that we’re dealing with individuals whose lives had been haphazardly intertwined some undetermined period before what we see.

You can feel it more than you see it. It’s more like rehearsal. And the lack of refinement as far as the production quality isn’t helping the situation.

And speaking of the production quality – and I’ll be the first to tip my hat that the film was shot in the course of no less (or more) than eight days – but this isn’t about economy (is it?) it’s about the goddamn story. And whether for fear or farce, it was more than a little rough around the edges.

And that’s it. Thanks for staying. I could go on about the convoluted story, the poor utility of the past flashes, the dry drunk sense of general buffoonery – the clichés.  But I’m done. Pare it down to a fifteen minute sketch on Mad TV and maybe that’ll work better.

Or, maybe not.

 

Final Rating: 2/5

 

S.T. King is an aspiring novelist with a ravenous appetite for the dark, and an insatiable thirst for the ink of the fantastique. Currently he’s a mental health counselor, helping people purge the skeletons from their closets – though admittedly, he thinks it’s more fun putting them back in.

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