Jonah Lives (2015) Review

jonahlives1JONAH LIVES (2015)

Starring Brinke Stevens, Cesar Pereira and Ryan Boudreau

Written and Directed by Luis Carvalho

A story of revenge from beyond the grave, centring on a group of teenagers who unwittingly supply the catalyst for the murdered Jonah’s return from the grave.”

What do you get when you get a bunch of thirty yet old looking teenagers who like talking about nothing between weird long pauses and just playing poker in a basement, and toss them in a blender with a zombie with a shaky motivation for going on a killing spree?

You get the ridiculous Jonah Lives. Man I really hate hating on a film but this was bad.

The aforementioned group of teenagers who look like adults who speak like aliens probably think we speak get bored of playing poker while their parents get pissed upstairs and start playing a ouija board. As well as kind of being possessed they inexplicably wake up a dead guy who, instead of going after the people who killed him, just kills the dumb kids downstairs.

There are so many things weirdly wrong with this but I kind of got myself lost listing them all.

Characters are completely inconsistent. One minute they’re an asshole jock, then they’re religious and nice, and then they’re suggesting doing a seance. And the actors never rise above it.

jonahlives3Francis is the Skeet Ulrich type who is a jock on the outside but has a heart of gold. Maybe. He flip flops.

Lydia starts as a typical dirty talker Rob Zombie type and then has an existential crisis or something.

And it goes on like this for them all.

Not only are they inconsistent, they’re horribly written and completely unlikeable. I swear to god someone says penetration and another guy chuckles and says “he said penetration!” And then another guy says “fuck you and your peer pressure” and they just sit around in a basement like little children. Carvalho probably does know how human teenagers interact, but he sure as shit can’t write it.

Which is a shame, because Carvalho can compose a shot professionally. This feels like a bigger budget than it probably was visually. But the seizure induced editing makes even the simplest scenes incoherent, as does the laughable sound effects.

The pacing, the structure, the acting, the filmmaking is all just massively uninspired. As is Jonah himself when he eventually turns up.

To wrap this up on a positive note, the score by Russell Estrela is a great 80s synth score that recalls a few Giallo scores. It’s really fun.

But that’s it.

jonahlives2From the cutaways to the party upstairs that leads to nothing, to the random debates about religion that feel cut and pasted from Wikipedia, I just found this a really joyless experience. Could there be a drinking game in here? Maybe a tequila shot every time there is an unnaturally long pause in the dialogue, or a beer bong when someone an attempt at humour goes wildly wrong. Actually, that could be fun! Maybe order a pizza too, and get some friends round.


Jonah Lives (2012) Review

Jonah Live PosterJonah Lives (2012)

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.

Jonah Live 1There 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.

Jonah Lives 2Now 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.