Lumberjack Man is a horror-comedy film directed by Josh Bear, whose previous work includes Splosion Man and Comic Jumper, neither of which are horror. (or films, for that matter.) Comic Jumper does, however, illustrate his zany humor which is incorporated a lot into this film, which is an entry into After Dark‘s 8 Films to Die For of 2015.
I found myself almost looking forward to Lumberjack Man most of the 8 Films collection. The cover-work and title and everything else looked like a clear indication of what the film would be about. A generic slasher film with one-dimensional characters and no-names for the slaughter of a masked figure. A genre that has been done to death a million times I still enjoy from time to time because slashers were such a big-part of my childhood. A good slasher film is like winning the lottery though, a broken clock that’s right twice every few years with 1438 times when that clock is wrong. A normal person would buy a new clock, … and yet…
Lumberjack Man follows the tried and true formula of a slasher film by premise only, and finds itself heavily leaning on the comedic-side. The films about a bunch of teens who head to church camp and find themselves massacred by a ‘demon logger’. Sounds familiar? Swap ‘church camp’ with ‘summer camp,’ and you have a million other films like it, right? Right, but the film’s antagonist is a lumberjack who was murdered for not selling his famous flapjack recipe and has returned to feast on blood-soaked flapjacks as revenge. Right.
The film’s cast includes Michael Madsen (known actor, The Hateful Eight), Adam Sessler (character I enjoyed the most), and Ciara Flynn (main-girl).
Like I said, Lumberjack Man leans an awful lot on comedy to carry it as a feature film. No big deal, such comedies are very common. For example, 2015‘s The Final Girl is an example of a well-received horror-comedy film. The difference between them, however, is coherence. Lumberjack Man isn’t a coherent film at all. In the first twenty or so minutes, the humor works. A camp counselor named Doug introduces himself and decrees every time a high-school student behaves, a marble goes into a jar. If the jar’s full at the end of the week, a pizza party! I laughed. Funny in a ridiculous, cheese-ball sort-of way, and that’s why Adam Sessler‘s character was my favorite part about the flick.
The best way I could describe Lumberjack Man is to say it is dependent on zany outlandishness. The introduction starts with promise, but … from there, the film absolutely falls apart. Gratuitous nudity plagues this film. This is a horror-trope, no less common that campy humor, but this film has no problem in using it as a crutch, again and again. Every other scene seems to lead to a topless chick flaunting herself. Splash fights and syrup, Lumberjack Man is a film without shame. In-fact, one scene involves two campers watching a counselor slather herself in oil in a scene that goes on forever that comes equipped with cheesy music for good measure. Sex sells, but come on!
Is it my own fault? I always find reviews telling me to keep ‘expectations in check,’ but that’s a ridiculous, cop-out excuse. I’ve watched hundreds and hundreds of horror films in my years, and there is no reason why Lumberjack Man shouldn’t be better. ‘Expectations in check,’ as if I watch the film anticipating John Carpenter‘s Halloween, but all I want is functionality, structure, and balance.
The film introduces the final-girl as a confident, against the grain protagonist, but her character and the narrative forget all that’s established before the second-quarter concludes. A wild food fight scene appears out-of-nowhere like a Pokemon in a forest.
The acting isn’t deplorable by low-budget standards, and even the most cringe-worthy moments seem more faulted by the directing and script than anything else. But, the characters are deplorable, whether it be the main-girl’s lack of consistency or the random, nonsensical fan-service. Lumberjack Man runs at 105 minutes (counting credits) which makes it the longest run-timefor any of the 8 Films to Die For I’ve watched so far by a hefty margin, but the thing is, with the amount of messing around, this could have been substantially shorter.
Long story short, Lumberjack Man is a nonsensical, ultimately bad film with occasional charm dispelled by terrible characters. It has entertaining moments for sure but the bad deeply outweighs the good on this one.