JONAH LIVES (2015)
Written and Directed by Luis Carvalho
A group of bored teenage friends decide to break out the ouija board one evening whilst their parents are participating in a swingers party upstairs. After connecting with the spirit of a murdered soul named Jonah, they decide to summon him to their basement location with disasterous consequences.
Straight-forward ‘horror’ (I use that term lightly), JONAH LIVES is a lacklustre take on the whole brattish-teens-summon-the-undead genre. Six annoying friends with very little going for them think that messing around with the supernatural is an ideal way to spend an evening. Well, all but one of them that is as uber-serious Tony decides that the spirit world is not one to be messed with. Good man, you’ve clearly done your homework or at least watched a plethora of horrors to know what’s about to unfold. When the soul they summon actually makes an appearance, the friends are surprised to find that he isn’t in the best of moods about being woken up from his eternal slumber and his desire for them to share the same fate as him.
JONAH LIVES has very little going for it and is one of those titles that you’d wish you’d left on the shelf. From the narrative right down to the acting ability of its stars, the film struggles to capture the viewer from the get-go. Whilst films like this have been done to death before, every film is given the opportunity to leave its own mark and become one of the better ones of it genre. Unfortunately this is not the case of JONAH LIVES where the build up of tension has been completely ripped out to leave just a connect- and-summon scenario that ends in a trail of blood. That’s not the only downside. Like nails down a chalkboard, the characters occupying the screen for much of the running time are incredible painful to endure. With acting abilities akin to a low grade high school drama class, the cast over-play their parts to the point of cringeworthiness. Most sound as though they’re reading their lines off a cue card off-screen or speaking their dialogue in isolation. Not a single word uttered sounds genuine in the slightest. The fact that the film suffers from a poor script doesn’t help matters either. Led by Bam Margera lookalike Francis, the teens follow their leader with everything he says and does even though they know he’s a complete douchebag. Even his girlfriend doesn’t like him much. So when Jonah comes a-knockin’, we’re actually grateful that he’s intending to do away with each and every one of them. However, that hope is soon quashed when we realise even the boogeyman of the film isn’t up to the simple task at hand… at least not in a bloodthirsty, over-the-top entertaining kind of way.
I can appreciate that JONAH LIVES has been made on a small budget but the film suffers too much from disjointed editing, lingering shots and low dialogue audio whilst the score when Jonah appears is painfully loud and piercing on the ol’ eardrums. These downfalls combined with the aforementioned issues unfortunately leave a mess of a movie that is too far gone to salvage. An intent to create a monster/undead horror is there but it doesn’t go in the direction you expect… it actually goes nowhere.
JONAH LIVES, unfortunately.