The horror film 'Johnny Gruesome' from Uncork'd Entertainment tries to blend the story of a revenant --an animated corpse that returns to avenge its own death -- and turn it into a coming-of-age story. This film, which writer director Gregory Lamberson adapts from his own novel, aims for ghost story tropes and relatively dry humor.
Anthony De La Torre plays the embittered "metal head" of the title well. The character's grudge stems from his death at the hands of his inner circle of friends while joyriding. But his wrath extends to his alcoholic father,a stereotypical jock nemesis and others.
These elements are too familiar and Lamberson only partially breaths new life into them with sparingly-used humor (my favorite bit involved a blind storekeeper). Lamberson slickly directs and paces the story well.
The performances are solid but at times artificial -- to be fair, this could be a nod to the films that probably inspired Lamberson. Bryan Brown II seems to struggle at times with the pivotal role of Johnny's best friend.
The writing also sometimes seems to oddly circumvent the inherent pathos in the story, ultimately rendering Johnny a straight villain.
Fans of films from the high school horror genre such as 'Carrie' or 'Fear No Evil' should enjoy this as the throwback that it seems intended to be.