Whenever I watch a vampire movie, I always wonder what it would be like to live forever. I personally don’t see the appeal. Mortal life is dull as it is, why would I want it to last for as long as possible? Immortal is a collection of stories that reflect on the darker side of not being able to die. All four segments were written by Jon Dabach (I’d Like to be Alone Now), who also directed one segment, with Tom Colley, Danny Isaacs and Rob Margolies directing the other three.
The stories focus on everyday people discovering that they can’t die by a complete fluke, either by being hit by a car, or making the decision to end their life, only to realize it can’t be done. The stories start off with a very real-world premise but get turned on their head once immortality is thrown into the mix.
The first chapter Chelsea follows a high school student (Lindsay Mushett) being sexually pursued by her coach. But a creepy teacher turns out to be the least of her worries. In Gary & Vanessa, an expecting mother and father (Agnes Bruckner and Brett Edwards) deep in debt hatch a morbid plan to fix their financial woes. In Ted & Mary, an elderly couple is interviewed by a documentary crew about their decision to perform an at-home euthanasia, since the state has outlawed physician-assisted suicide. And in the final segment Warren, a loner is killed in a hit and run. When he wakes up alive moments later, he hires a private investigator and plots his revenge against the person who hit him.
Going into this movie, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t bother to read synopsis’. All I knew was the title and that it starred Tony Todd (Candyman). Maybe I was hoping for some kind of slasher, with Tony Todd as an unstoppable killing machine. So imagine my surprise when the horror icon instead gives a tender and tear-jerking performance as Ted, who describes what it’s like having to take care of his cancer-ridden wife Mary (Robin Bartlett, Shutter Island). I don’t think we’ve ever gotten to seen this side of Todd before. The emotional segment stands out as the strongest among the others. Another familiar face was Samm Levine (Inglorious Basterds), who surprised me as Warren, as he tests the limits of his newfound power, by drowning or starving himself (spoiler alert: there are no limits).
The movie starts off with Dylan Baker (Trick ‘r Treat) lecturing his English class on the subject of allegories, and how heroes and villains are represented in literature. If this was meant to be the film’s thesis, I felt it got lost going forward. Allies turn out to be villains, and morality becomes obscured. The segments end just as the twist is introduced, and the character make the shocking realization they can’t die. There’s no rhyme or reason to their immortality, it’s purely random. It becomes a guessing game of who out of the cast is immortal and who isn’t. As each chapter unexpectedly ended, I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry, only shrug.
I was a bit disappointed with the special effects. The film’s small budget really shows during the rapid healing scenes, looking like a quick brush job done on the computer. That took me out of the experience. However, practical effects were used for the still tableaus of death, and those were well done, especially at the bloody end of Gary & Vanessa.
Dabach has built a fascinating world in which I can envision several more stories fitting in, either as continuations of these short segments or entirely new unrelated stories. I would say a sequel or series would be in order, on the condition that it be done with a bigger budget and some stylized design. The acting couldn’t save Immortal from its cheap bland look.
Immortal is available on VOD September 8th, 2020. Let us know what you thought of this unique anthology film over on Twitter, in the official Nightmare on Film Street SUbreddit, and on Facebook in the Horror Movie Fiend Club!