This is a loving tribute to the men who really catapulted us into horror headlong: the Holy Trinity of Horror, Messers Fulci, Argento and Bava. Sure, the gore isn’t gory enough but for a demon fusion of Ouija and the undead, this one has some life in it.
With a banging thunderclap keyboard soundtrack – some reviewers have said is reminiscent of House by the Cemetery – this Massachusetts production has so much love going for it, and it looks pretty good too, despite being dirt-cheap (and despite what others have said).
Now we’re not nostalgists, the way aficionados of 90s rap are quick to damn anything made now. We’re sent new screeners of all sorts: from the most pedestrian of black eyeball supernatural thrillers to tedious tied-to-a-chair torture epics. We know what we like but we’re game for it all. Jonah Lives is a decent blend of the old and the new.
So…if a Ouija board as a conduit to the walking dead is what it’ll take to get horror heads into the Italians, we’ll take it.
Four dudes, two girls, the former into touch football and cards and the latter not even a little bored on a Friday night, draw out the board and summon demons such as…well, Jonah. Here, jocks who read are a nice and unexpected touch (some reviewers demanded a backstory as to why they were so well-read, as if backstory really mattered one iota in horror).
Jonah runs amok and the rest is history, as are most of them.
Some fun un-PC dialogue such as the Planned Parenthood-approved, “Wrap up that sausage” and “I got this [board] from a gypsy!” There’s also some choice gallows humor at the expense of a few victims (“what do we tell his mom?”).
The performances are highly variable, which for the genre is par for the course — but by no means is this a ball shanked into thick rough.
And director Luis Calvaho is a green filmmaker.
This is his first feature in fact. It’s flawed, but pretty deft DIY.
*** (out of 5)