Born with a rare condition that leaves him unable to feel any physical pain, Henry Long (Joey Klein) becomes obsessed with finding a cure. Henry’s obsession leads him to the verge of becoming a mad scientist.
Right off-the-bat the core idea of the film sounds like something from the M. Night Shyamalan universe. It’s something that stayed with me for the whole film, but I really had to do my best to get rid of that comparison, which is hard seeing as the character is dressed pretty closely to Bruce Willis’s character in Unbreakable. With trying to put that aside, Painless had some good things about it, but one major bad thing to go with all of the good.
The film opens up with home video footage of a child (Henry) constantly getting injured throughout his childhood. This sets up the film perfectly. I quickly knew what was going on within the first few minutes and it also had me intrigued wondering why it was that Henry was unable to feel pain. I’m guessing that’s precisely what writer and director Jordan Horowitz intended to do.
“Born with a rare condition that leaves him unable to feel any physical pain…”
Something that is an excellent addition to the film is that Henry narrates throughout the film. Being that he is a scientist, it plays well with the character and the film. It adds another dimension to the film overall.
Speaking of Henry’s character and dimensions, Henry is a pretty multi-dimensional character. He is a scientist that knows the illnesses of people just by looking at them. This has a lot to do with how obsessed he is with physical health and finding a cure for himself. He also feels excluded from the rest of the world because of his disorder. The acting ability of Joey Klein also helps the character and the film immensely. As does the rest of the cast.
Where I was left disappointed was when it came to the climax. And that’s a big deal. There is a lot of good build-up in the film regarding Henry finding a cure and his potential love life, but because of the final scene, all of the build-up almost seemed meaningless. I won’t give away the ending, but I will just say that it wasn’t all that satisfying.
Painless has a lot of bright spots. The cast and the production were good, and when you add in the graphic novel-like storyline mixed with a classic mad scientist feel, it really all meshed well together. But at the end of the day, the ending didn’t sit well with me. I wanted more for a character that had the potential to be a really great character, and I feel that a better ending would have helped put Henry over the imaginary “good to great” line. When I watch any film, I just want to be satisfied after watching it, and I just didn’t really get that feeling with this one.
Painless (2018) Written and directed by Jordan Horowitz. Starring Joey Klein, Evalena Marie, Kip Gilman, Pascal Yen-Pfister.
7 out of 10