It is entirely possible Luis Carvalho is the perpetrator of some elaborate joke; a cinematic chuckle if you will at all us punters who end up unwittingly sitting through his debut feature Jonah Lives. If not, then we worry for his career. It isn’t just that this “horror” film is bad; it is so anger-inducing, stomach-clenching terrible that it should never have been made, and certainly never, ever… ever have been released.
Opening with a confusing scene you discover later is somewhere in the middle act, Jonah Lives follows six teenagers who accidentally resurrect a murder victim bent on revenge. As the group seem to spend their evenings in a basement playing cards (just your regular teenagers then), they become trapped by the zombie-like Jonah and one by one are picked off in a variety of bloody, yet predominantly unseen ways.
Filmed as far back as 2011, this is a film that carries all the hallmarks of a wholly amateurish production. The dialogue and performances (bar Nicole Lasala as the annoyingly-voiced Lydia) are so dreadful you will see greater conviction at a primary school Nativity production. If there was a script, which is in itself doubtful, we suspect that during the copying process some of the pages were mixed up as characters constantly repeat themselves, to such a degree that you will scream at the screen in frustration.
There are more issues – and more than can be covered here – with the filmmaking itself. The editing is roughly the same standard on holiday movies you are forced to watch by excited neighbours recently returned from Disneyland. So ridiculously disjointed is the narrative, emphasised by the irritating repetition of lines, that you wonder if anyone involved actually watched the film before releasing it on a world unprepared for such a thoroughly miserable experience.
Apart from that one performance of barely passable acting, Jonah Lives contains nothing that warrants taking ninety minutes out of your life for. It is mildly interesting that it has taken five years for the film to emerge, and also that the majority of those involved have done little else in that time. Perhaps the greatest crime here then is that when presented with the opportunity to make a feature film (and IMDb estimates a budget of $3 million, which we would doubt), Carvalho and his team have done such a terrible job. And if all involved have struggled to find further work in the industry then, quite frankly, it serves them right.
Do not be tempted by the so-bad-it-must-be-good theory either. Jonah Lives is just awful. Really, really awful.
JONAH LIVES / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: LUIS CARVALHO / STARRING: BRINKE STEVENS, JOCELYN PADILLA, RYAN BOUDREAU, NICOLE LASALA / RELEASE DATE: JULY 25TH