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Review: Immortal (2019)

Who wants to live forever? A lot of people, apparently. One of the earliest recorded works of literature, The Epic of Gilgamesh, details a man’s quest for immortality. And in the year 2020, we’re still telling stories about it. In this case, the anthology film Immortal. Four stories about people for whom death is not an option.

In the first story, “Chelsea” the title character (Lindsay Mushett, Future World, Fairytale of New York) is a high school track star with a troubling relationship with her track coach (Michael Shenefelt, Lady and the Tramp, Wicked Games). A seemingly sympathetic teacher Mr. Shagis (Dylan Baker, Selma, Trick R Treat) offers to help. But he has his own agenda.

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There are a couple of interesting concepts here. Sadly, neither is well-developed. Director Rob Margolies (All You Can Eat, Bobcat Moretti) turns what could have been a thrilling segment into a bland, mostly talky affair. It also suffers from a non-ending, going out on a note that feels like the midpoint of a feature.

Up next is “Gary and Vanessa”. Facing financial problems and imminent fatherhood, Gary (Brett Edwards, Paranormal Incident, The Forever Purge) comes up with a scheme to solve their problems. His wife Vanessa (Agnes Bruckner, The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson, Vacancy 2: The First Cut) is not happy with his idea, but he’s insistent. Things, of course, go horribly wrong. Mario Van Peebles (A Clear Shot, Seized) has a cameo as a cable repairman.

Reading the plot of this episode, I thought I knew what to expect. The ending however caught me off guard. It’s a grim tale of karma, neatly directed by Danny Isaacs (The Big O, Stunted).

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“Ted and Mary”, the third episode, is a change of pace. Ted’s (Tony Todd, Candy Corn, Sky Sharks) wife Mary (Robin Bartlett, Shutter Island, Mad About You) suffers from terminal cancer. After giving an interview to a TV crew, he plans to help her end her suffering and her life.

This was the strongest segment of the film. Managing to be both touching and horrific in an all too relatable way. It was also nice to see Tony Todd playing a sympathetic character for a change. Tom Colley (The Weak and the Strong, Going to the Beach) certainly deserves more chances to direct based on this.

The fourth and final segment, “Warren” is a return to horror. Warren (Samm Levine, Freaks and Geeks, Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later) is killed by a hit-and-run driver. Finding out as a result that he can’t die, he seeks revenge against Sonia (Joanne Verbos, Rosebud Lane, Custody Road), the woman who hit him and her husband Joe (Jason Stuart, Another Coffeehouse Chronicles Movie, Kindergarten Cop).

Jon Dabach (I’d Like to Be Alone Now, Cut Throat) who wrote the script for all of Immortal’s segments also directed this one. A familiar plot, interestingly executed, it probably would have been better as the third story. It suffers in comparison to “Ted and Mary” which would also have been a stronger segment to end the film on.

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Immortal lacks a wraparound story, the only connection between the segments is the concept of immortality and writer Dabach. The end result is that it feels like four separate shorts thrown together, rather than a more traditional anthology.

Also, since Immortal is both the film’s title and theme, the episodes come somewhat pre-spoiled in some cases. It probably would have played better with a different title. And a poster that didn’t give the film’s secrets away.

Immortal is available on-demand from Stonecutter/DifferentDuckFilms. You can check the Different Ducks Facebook Page for more information.

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