“Immortal” is an interesting Screenwriting 201 assignment that somehow made it onto the screen.
How would your thriller/horror/end-of-life drama screenplay turn out differently if a character or characters could not be killed?
“The Villain Who Won’t Die” is an old horror movie convention. But what about the victim? What about a dying character in a couple that’s lived it up, knowing their borrowed time, planning a duel suicide to “pass over” together?
It’s as uneven as anthology films invariably are, with the range here being “almost comes off” to “indifferent.” The stories, all by Jon Dabach, are cleverly titled after their characters — “Gary and Vanessa,” “Ted and Mary,” etc.
A few “names” were lured to turn a quartet of short scripts on this theme into “Immortal” — Mario Van Peebles, horror icon Tony Todd, veteran character actor Dylan Baker, Agnes Bruckner (TV’s “The Returned”), Samm Levine.
Baker plays a fully engaged English teacher who lectures on “Lord of the Flies” but whose favorite fiction has to be “The Most Dangerous Game.”
Todd and Robin Bartlett star in the tender story, related by them to a video production crew, of the last day of one of their lives, which will climax (they figure) with an assisted suicide.
“If I knew this was coming, I’d have eaten more hot dogs!”
Van Peebles plays a cable repair guy in “Gary and Vanessa,” about a husband (Brett Edwards) who decides the only way to provide for his pregnant wife (Bruckner) and future child is to fake his death.
Levine (TV’s “Wet Hot American Summer”) is a hit-and-run victim who has a seriously uninteresting idea for how to turn his can’t-die experience into revenge.
A few of the players — Baker, Todd, Lindsay Mushett (as a student opposite Baker) — give fair value.
But none of the tales told makes for riveting watching, with slack storytelling, indifferent acting mixed in with a solid performance here and there. And there are these head-snappingly dumb boners in the script that become the film’s sole stand-out features.
There’s a high school filled with what look like 30 year-olds as students.
A guy who stages his death as an accident in which he’s electrocuted by a Dish/Direct TV cable and falls off the roof is a guy who doesn’t know there’s no electricity running from the dish. It’s coax cable with harmless video being fed through it. That reminds you that a lot of younger screenwriters don’t know which end of a screwdriver to use.
And I don’t care if Tony “Candyland” Todd is a screen legend. If he says “That sense of normalacy” on your set, you stop rolling, correct the grammar (there’s no such word) and get another take. Or maybe run spellcheck on your script if you wrote it that way.
Yes, the Achilles Heel of “Immortal” is the script, which plays as if it started life as a film school writing exercise, and probably never should have left the classroom.
MPAA Rating: unrated, bloody violence
Cast: Tony Todd, Agnes Bruckner, Lindsay Mushett, Dylan Baker, Mario Van Peebles and Samm Levine
Credits: Directed by Tom Colley, Danny Isaacs, Rob Margolies, and Jon Dabach, script by Jon Dabach. A Stonecutter Media release.
Running time: 1:33