How do you put a fresh spin on a tired story? We’ve seen every variation of the zombie outbreak premise, haven’t we? Well, what if we followed horror film icons as they tried to survive the zombie apocalypse? Intrigued? Well, so was I, until I watched Necropath, the freshman effort from writer/director, Joshua Reale, consisting of three of his short films.
Taken on their own, the award-winning shorts aren’t bad, but Necropath cobbles them together Frankenstein-style, and it’s somehow less than the sum of its parts. We were promised horror film icons, but instead, we get Scrag. Scrag (Moe Isaac) is a junkie who only wants two things in life: to get high and murder people. He is a simple man, but also the 1980s idea of a crackhead brought to life: a monosyllabic, barely functional predator who is just a little more capable than the zombies that are loose in the street. The only thing Scrag seems to have going for him is an inability to die. Shoot or stab him, let him get bit by a zombie, Scrag comes back ready to Scrag. That’s the Necropath guarantee.
“Scrag is a junkie who only wants two things in life: to get high and murder people.”
Beyond that, any similarity between Scrag and other movie slashers is purely coincidental. The character is a weedy, greasy, anemic creature that looks as if he would fall over in a slight breeze. Unable to overpower or outthink his opponents, the only thing he can do is sneak up on people. Most audience members would have the idea that they could get away from, if not kick the living sh!t out of Scrag. Unlike the hulking presence of Jason, or the calculating hidden killer in the original Black Christmas, or the relentlessly friendly villagers in Midsommar, Scrag elicits absolutely no fear from the audience. He is, at best, an afterthought with delusions of adequacy.
Writer/director, Joshua Reale, is relentless in his barrage of gloomy nihilistic images. The most grimdark to ever grimdark. And honestly, it is clear that he is trying his best. But without a thematic through-line, or something resembling a plot, what the viewer is left with is a fairly good death metal video without the music. And yes, they promised us grindhouse thrills, but with a script that lacks enough “meat on the bone” (get it?), it’s not much different than watching Faces of Death. Gore ceases to be shocking if every scene is dripping with it.
"…it feels like the people who wrote the promotional material didn't actually watch the movie."