Immortal Movie Review
Written by Stuart D. Monroe
Released by Stonecutter Media
Directed by Tom Colley (“Ted and Mary”), Jon Dabach (“Warren”), Danny Isaacs (“Gary and Vanessa”), and Rob Margolies (“Chelsea”)
Written by Jon Dabach
2019, 94 minutes, Not Rated
Released on September 25th, 2020
Tony Todd as Ted
Robin Bartlett as Mary
Dylan Baker as Mr. Shagis
Lindsay Mushett as Chelsea
Samm Levine as Warren
Brett Edwards as Gary
Agnes Bruckner as Vanessa
Mario Van Peebles as Carl
C.J. Vana as Grant
It must be getting closer to fall in this evil year of 2020, because I finally get to spend some time with another anthology. They always seem to pop up around this time of year for me; it’s like a signal to break out the warmer clothes. That’s a good feeling, and I sat down to Immortal with a hopeful heart that wasn’t left dashed.
Immortal is an anthology with a specific underlying theme: Every segment involves at least one person who’s literally immortal (though many don’t know it). That supernatural caveat is wound through four tales presented in the “moral horror” stylings of old E.C. Comics. The format is stripped down to the bare bones with the noticeable absence of any wraparound story, but it does offer a simple title card between each story’s cold open. It’s a stark tale-by-tale approach that works in the favor of the flavor of the stories themselves, each one standing on its own two feet while presenting a variety of horrors both anticipated and shockingly unexpected. Like all anthologies, some entries are stronger than others, but the overall body of work is tightly cohesive and laced with real humanity and some powerful performances.
In “Chelsea”, a beautiful young track athlete named Chelsea (Lindsay Mushett; Blue Bloods) is having an issue with her sleazy track coach. Her witty and insightful English teacher, Mr. Shagis (Dylan Baker; Trick R’ Treat), wants to help her file a complaint against him…or so she thinks. By the time she comes to (where’d that dart come from?), Chelsea will find herself in the middle of the open wilderness in a scenario she couldn’t imagine against an enemy who won’t die. Chelsea fills her shoes adequately, but this is the criminally underappreciated Dylan Baker’s moment to shine, and he steals the show just like he does in Trick R’ Treat. This is the segment that provides your psychological “what the fuck” moments. It’s a strong leadoff.
“Gary and Vanessa” tells us the story of a happily pregnant couple (Brett Edwards; American Sniper and Agnes Bruckner; Vacancy 2: The First Cut) awaiting the arrival of their new baby. Everything seems perfect, but Gary has a secret: He’s going to kill himself for the insurance money so his new baby and his wife can finally afford to stop living hand to mouth. He has the perfect plan to make it look like an accident, but there are things that Gary doesn’t know about both himself and his wife. While more than a little on the predictable side of things, “Gary and Vanessa” is the archetype cautionary tale of what happens to the greedy backstabbers of the world. It’s a timeless tale that’s given a very black sense of humor.
“Ted and Mary” is the heartbreaker of the film, a segment that is head-and-shoulders above the rest of its brethren. That’s not even a knock on the other segments; it’s just that Tony Todd (Candyman, Final Destination) and Robin Bartlett (American Horror Story) give you a couple standing on the edge of assisted suicide that’s so heartfelt and genuinely lovable that it makes the horror simply unfair when it comes. That’s the best kind of horror, for the record, but you’ll hate it a bit here because of the tears still drying on your cheeks from some of the preceding scenes. Also, as unbelievable as they both are, there are no bit parts here – the entire cast gets their moment to ground the shock you’ll feel once the story is over in a bedrock of real heart. It’s a standout segment by the standards of any anthology, and if you take out the ending it simply transitions to painfully real drama.
In closing with “Warren”, we’re given a straightforward story of a somewhat lonely single man named Warren (Samm Levine; Not Another Teen Movie) who has his neck broken when he’s run over by a lady at the park. She flees, leaving him for dead. Unfortunately for her, Warren doesn’t die. He’s also lost the will to live after realizing he can’t die, so he hones in on the one thing he cares about – revenge. It’s short, vicious, and to the point. “Warren” isn’t at flashy or twisty, but it also proves that sometimes you don’t have to be.
The collection doesn’t rest on the laurels of simply having that unified theme of immortality, but instead Immortal plays all its cards with deftness and variety in tone and delivery. In each tale, the knowledge that death holds no sway over these characters ruins something essential in each one and robs them of their humanity to varying degrees. By being an anthology that strips down and alters the formula in a minimalist fashion while maximizing the ways it delivers the goods, Immortal delivers a memorable horror anthology that will prove to have some staying power.
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