by Patrick Bromley
Since he started dabbling in acting in Adam Rifkin's 1994 action comedy The Chase, Black Flag/Rollins Band frontman Henry Rollins has become a dependable character performer, called upon whenever a role calls for someone shouty or intense or just wants to cash in on our goodwill for the singer/speaker/author. He's been well utilized here and there, most notably in Joe Lynch's Wrong Turn 2 and as a security guard laughably beat up by tiny Al Pacino in Heat. It hasn't been until the new horror comedy He Never Died, the latest feature from writer/director Jason Krawczyk, that a role has been so well suited to Rollins' strengths as an actor. I don't know for certain that the part was written specifically with Rollins in mind, but it might as well have been.
He Never Died isn't a great horror comedy, but it is a good one. It's shaggy and repetitive, never all that funny nor scary. The stakes are strangely low and difficult to invest in, probably because all the gangster stuff feels inserted just to provide some external conflict. The mystery of Jack's past and the gradual reveal of what's really going on with him is far more compelling, both because it's a new mythology in horror (or at least a twist on some that are familiar) and because of how it acts as a metatextual commentary on Rollins himself. As someone who has followed his career since the first time I heard "Low Self Opinion" in high school (I even went out and bought all of his spoken word CDs, practically memorizing certain passages), I know Rollins to be a very intense, very focused, seldom social man. He's a guy who works tirelessly, and I've always thought that he stays so busy because a) he doesn't know how to do anything else but work, work, work and b) he is holding a great deal of anger inside of himself and has to remain distracted so he doesn't explode.
He Never Died will be in limited release and on VOD beginning December 18.