Jonah Lives (2012)
Synopsis: A group of teens foolishly play with a spirit board contact the spirit of a murdered man who they soon resurrect from the grave in the form of a murderous zombie intent on avenging his own death and stalking the teens down one by one until he can get to his killer.
I'm going to do my best to touch on everything in this movie but to say it jumped all over the place would definitely be an understatement. So it's starts off with 4 guys playing quite possibly the worst game of 2-on-2 touch football I have ever seen in my life, while 2 of their girlfriends sit in the side chatting amongst themselves. Right of the bat you get the impression that the characters were pulled straight out of a John Hughes knock off. The characters are:
- Francis, the group leader and jock
- Tony, the “no sex until marriage” guy (not sure if that's religion based)
- Jessie, the asthmatic, Napolean Dynamite looking nerd
- Johnny, not really sure his role
- Lydia, the slutty one, who is dating Tony
- Barbara, the “good girl” who is coincidentally dating, and secretly knocked up, by Francis.
When the football game is done, they go back to Francis' basement where the guys play poker and the girls again, sit on the side and talk. Eventually they complain that all the guys ever want to do is play poker and the girls want to do something fun. Francis has an idea. He leaves the basement and goes up into his house where we then learn that his parents are throwing what appears to be a swingers party. His dad makes him talk to some people. This is where we are introduced to Zora, the obvious cougar, but more on her later. Francis goes upstairs to his room where he finds a young girl on his bed watching TV. At first you think it's his sister but the first thing he says to her is “no babysitter tonight?” Which than leads to slight conversation about how her parents couldn't find a sitter so they brought her and she has to stay up in the room. You didn't read that wrong. These parents of the year candidates took their young daughter to a swinger party.
Anyway, Francis tells her how she shouldn't be wasting her time watching TV and she should read instead. The book he recommends and gives her to read... THE BIBLE! Yeah, that one came out of nowhere but in that instant, his character completely changes. At no point in the movie to this point did any of these characters drop the hint of any kind of theological knowledge. Francis returns to the basement with the “game” for them all to play. That game, is a quija board. All of them are willing to play. All except Tony, who also now has a wealth of religious knowledge and he refuses to toy with the demon realm. Meanwhile, Francis has now become a full blown mystic as he goes into detail explaining how the board works and answering questions from the group. Tony sits back on the couch while the other 5 begin to play. It takes them all of 1 second to contact a spirit. After a couple questions, they ask his name and he replies “H-A-N-O-J.” After a little confusion, Barbara realizes that he spelled it backwards and the were speaking to a man named Jonah. Now I remember watching Witchboard when I was younger and being told that spirits were horrible spellers but not once did they say anything about them being dyslexic. The next question is how he died to witch he responds “P-O-I-S-O-N.” When one of them asks why this answer wasn't backwards, Francis' answer is that Jonah is fully awake now. Wait, What?!?! I swear I couldn't make this up. Next question is who killed you. Jonah answers “W-I-F.” And now they can't spell; I guess Witchboard was right. So they come up with the brilliant idea to use this time to bring Jonah back to life, because some how they all know how to chant over a quija board and wake the dead. So Jonah comes back to life, goes to the house, and finds the kids in the basement.
Now if I haven't scared you away from watching this movie already, I will skip the point of spoiling who dies and how. What I will say is that just about all of the deaths happen in the hallway right outside the room they are in. How do all of the deaths happen in the same spot you ask? Because despite knowing that Jonah is out there, they continually go out into the hallway, ONE AT A TIME!!! Throughout the teens time getting murdered, we are flashed occasional clips of the party happening upstairs where a bunch of drunken adults are partying away and some how don't hear the constant screams and bangs coming from the basement. We are also brought back to the little girl hanging up in Francis' room. She gets thirsty and so she leaves the room and calls down to her mom. When her mom finally comes to the steps, the girl asks her mother for a glass of water. Her mom goes into the kitchen and we get a nice close up of her mom putting pills in a glass and filling it with water. She then gives it to the girl who almost immediately passes out. Brings her daughter to a swinger party and than drugs her. I have no clue what purpose this served to the movie itself, other than showing that this lady is one shitty ass parent. We also get a glimpse of Zora (the slutty cougar) giving a toast to her dearly departed husband...Jonah. The way I wrote it probably made that more of a surprise than it actually was. So Jonah was brought back to life and his goal was to avenge his murder but right now he is to busy killing the teenagers who bought him back to life even though his murder is literally standing right over his head.
Okay, so back down to the kids getting brutalized in the basement. Skipping forward until we are down to just three of them left. They come up with the idea to reverse the chant over the quija to send Jonah back to the grave... like it was really going to be that simple. At first they thought it worked so the 3 left the room, walk through the basement, and attempt to leave before they are confronted by Jonah and run back to the room. This time they don't shut the door and Jonah follows them in. One character, who has already mentally snapped, stands up and says “take me jonah.” You know the scenes in vampire movies where a girl gives in to the vampire, pulls her shirt down and tilts her head, giving her next to the vampire. Well that's exactly what this character did, and Jonah walked over and took a chunk out of their neck. Now I said I wouldn't spoil the deaths but I had to spoil this one to prove a constant trend in this movie and that's that it is clearly making shit up as it goes. I won't tell say how the other deaths happened but I will say that none of them involved Jonah being a zombie, until that one. Two deaths and the worst attempt at hiding EVER, there is one character left. That character is in their horrible hiding spot, where they are found immediately and now trapped.
In his attempt to get that person, Jonah basically defeats himself and disappears. The character wanders upstairs to the party where the parents now realize something bad has happened. One of them run downstairs where they are confronted with the bodies of the other teens. Now it's morning, all the adults are standing in the lawn as the loan survivor is being taken out on a stretcher. Cut to the last scene of Zora getting into her car and Jonah pops up in the back seat. The funniest part of that scene is that when Zora who, if my math is correct, is 52 starts her car, there is some hardcore rap blaring on the radio.
If you haven't got the hint from reading this, I was definitely not a fan of this movie. The bad acting can be overlooked, as it was pretty much expected. The plot itself was one big hole and as I stated earlier, aspects of the movie were continuously changing in an attempt to try and make things work. It was like the writers wrote themselves into a corner and instead of backtracking in an attempt to keep a cohesive story they just said “let's just do it this way.” This isn't all negative though. There is one thing I loved about this movie. And that is that the theme song was very similar to the theme song from Phantasm. What does it say about a movie that it's best quality is that it shares a theme song with another movie? I'll let you be the judge of that.
reviewed by Bobby