Director: Luis Carvalho
Starring: Jocelyn Padilla, Ryan Boudreau, Nicole Lasala, James Barrett, Rob Roy, Aaron Peaslee, Cesar Pereira.
“It’s raining it’s boring.”
Six teens use a Ouija board to summon a spirit back from the grave. Jonah rises from the dead and makes his way to their house for revenge? Jonah’s motivations are entirely unclear, but boy is he grumpy.
Jonah Lives is, kindly put, not good. Lucky then that it’s so bad it’s good. Unintentionally hilarious in fact. There are more than a few laugh-out-loud moments. The dialogue is set on repeat, there are numerous awkward silences, cheesy special effects, bad acting by actors too old to play teens and weighty discussions of world religions spouted by characters who don’t seem smart enough to be passing remedial English. It all goes in to create a film that must be seen to be believed as no description is going to do it justice.
There is no real rhyme or reason to anything that happens in Jonah Lives except that it was scripted that way. The six bored teenagers are hanging out in Francis’ (Boudreau) basement playing poker for nickels while upstairs their parent are having a wilder party than the teens, seriously, their parents are having a drugged out key party.
There is a vague subplot about one of the parents not finding a sitter for her daughter, and the hapless pre-teen is roofied by her mother so she’ll sleep through the party, an aside which goes nowhere. Meanwhile in the basement the teens raise the dead over the vocal objections of one boy who has enough theological knowledge to teach a class and refuses to have anything to do with the devil’s work. There is also maybe a Christian message?
There is no consistency to the characters either. Of the two girls one whines her way through to the end and the other has a massive existential meltdown that comes out of nowhere. Francis, who insisted on using the Ouija in the first place has an adorable interaction with the pre-teen girl from the party who is hanging out in his bedroom. He tells her to read the Bible instead of watching TV and that all she needs to know is in the Good Book. He then takes his Ouija board downstairs and raises the dead!?
Another glaring weak point is Jonah’s motivation. Attending the adult party upstairs is his grotesque widow. I spent the entire movie waiting for Jonah to leave the basement, bust into the upstairs party and take his bloody revenge. But no. That doesn’t happen. Maybe the film makers didn’t have the budget, maybe they just lack imagination. Either way events unfold in the most typical of horror movie ways with no real reason. Or at least very thin reason, in that Jonah decides to target the teens who raised him rather than his ex-wife. Which, without getting into spoilers seems backwards.
Now for the good. Jonah looks great. the make-up is excellent. A little stiff in the face perhaps, but he doesn’t really need to emote much aside from the odd grunt and growl. Again I have to reiterate that Jonah Lives is so bad its good. Get your friends together, watch it, and riff to your heart’s content.
Kudos for: The 80s Synth tracks.
Lesson learned: Francis knows all and sees all.