A violent, adults-only horror comic adaptation, scripted by co-creator David Quinn and directed by horror veteran Brian Yuzna. What could go wrong?
The story mixes the traditional Faust fable with superhero elements. Mark Frost plays John Jaspers, an everyman mourning his girlfriend’s recent murder. A mysterious man known only as M offers John the power to claim vengeance. The cost? John’s soul, of course. John takes the deal and gains the ability to transform into a demonic being complete with horns and gauntlets with retractable claws. A hellish amalgam of Batman and Wolverine.
But John soon discovers he’s trapped as M’s slave. With the help of a psychiatrist, he strives to break free, but M has other plans.
I loved Andrew Divoff as M. He delivers a delicious mix of comic book and horror villainy, seeming to relish his character’s absolute evil.
Jeffrey Combs also proves welcome, albeit wasted in an extraneous role.
But I struggled with Frost’s performance. He’s flat as Jaspers and cartoonish as Faust. Maybe he and Yuzna thought the approach would emphasize the distinct personalities. Regardless, the result didn’t work for me.
I also struggled with the script’s insistence on compressing a trilogy’s worth of plot into a single film. The dialogue-heavy result proves a slog, taking far too long to unleash Faust, and never embracing the source material’s over-the-top tone. Did Quinn miscalculate and assume the source material’s popularity derived from something other than the hyper sexual and violent presentation? Or did he compromise to market to a wider audience? I don’t know. The unrated version features more gruesome effects, but its tone remains restrained.
But about those effects. Courtesy of Screaming Mad George, they’re the film’s lone bright spot. A Society-esque sequence involving M and one of his minions proved the closest the film came to the over-the-top rollercoaster fans expected.