Jack Wyatt (Drew Hirschboeck) is a down-on-his-luck gold miner. Penniless and bullied by local drunks, his fortunes dramatically change when he comes across a cursed gun. With the new pistol in hand, Jack becomes the Doc Holiday of his small town. However, his triumphs are short-lived as he discovers the ruthless outlaw, Maddox (Jeffery T. Smith), is after the infamous weapon. Now, Jack must team up with the mysterious gunslinger, Rose (Miranda Byers), to save his hometown and reclaim this gun from Hell.
Jack Wyatt and the Gun from Hell gives off a distinctly comic book feel. On his Youtube channel, writer and director Clay Damaw cites Sin City and 300 as influences on the visual style of the film, which does make a certain amount of sense. The film was shot entirely on a green screen and uses a dusty monochromatic scheme to give the narrative its atmosphere. The use of digital filmmaking does lead to some cool transitions but also presents unique drawbacks. I love the idea of a comic book western; however, the complete reliance on green screen made many scenes feel flat – especially those set on the open range or in an expansive forest. Heck, even the “crowded” saloons were hard to buy into.
“…Jack must team up with the mysterious gunslinger…to save his hometown…”
The premise for Jack Wyatt and the Gun from Hell is perfect for a comic-book-inspired western. Centering a film around a cursed gun plaguing an Old West town is what a cult film or midnight favorite is made of. However, the film rarely takes time to breathe and flesh out its characters. Due to the constant pace, the final battle feels anti-climatic. I love the idea of a downtrodden gold miner becoming a hero and taking on the big bad but there needed to be more time with the characters surrounding Jack, so the audience can cheer for this band of heroes or understand and maybe even root for the sinister villain. A little spectacle can go a long way.
Jack Wyatt and the Gun from Hell has a great premise and gets close to the comic book influences it is inspired by, but ultimately Clay Damaw falls short. If the film steered further into the comic book aesthetic or gave audiences stylized action sequences, it would be phenomenal. Early on, the film even makes some great meta-jokes about each character’s life expectancy. Unfortunately, the possibilities present are endless, but unfortunately, the final result was not as immersive or slick as it could or should have been. If the title leaned more into the meta aspect or was more cartoony (like Velocipastor), I probably would walk away loving it.
"…a great premise and gets close to the comic book influences it is inspired by..."