by Hope Madden
Countless movies over the years have pondered what it might feel like to be immortal. Writer Jon Dabach, in four separate tales with one thread in common, wonders what it would be like not to be able to die.
His film Immortal strings together these stories, each one directed by a different person (Tom Colley, Danny Isaacs, Rob Margolies and Dabach himself), each one depicting one person’s relationship with deathlessness.
The composite contains a horror short, two thrillers and one anguished romance.
Chelsea, starring the great Dylan Baker, offers a somewhat overwritten first act. Baker is beloved old high school English teacher Mr. Shagis, Chelsea (Lindsay Mushet) is the school’s star athlete, and today’s lesson is symbolism.
Baker’s as nuanced and fascinating as always in a short that starts things off with a solid smack.
Of the balance, Mary and Ted is most effective. Assisted suicide advocates film a video of the longtime married couple played lovingly by Robin Bartlett and Tony Todd. We, along with the crew, get to know them—their love, their suffering—and then the crew leaves them to their task.
I feel like I want to send Dabach a thank you note for this one, just to see Tony Todd this tender. The sub-baritone voiced horror icon (Candyman, Night of the Living Dead) delicately wields emotion and heartbreak here in a way we’ve certainly never seen from this actor. Bartlett offers an outstanding counterpoint, the believable resignation in her delivery weighing down every line.
A hit and run victim exacts precise revenge in Warren, which takes a particularly solitary view: So you just found out you can’t die. What do you do now? The absolute ordinariness, the down-to-earthiness of this one’s delivery—as well as the charmingly odd investigator—give it real appeal.
Even the one that feels most predictable takes a wildly unpredictable turn—one the filmmakers do not shy away from capturing on film. In each, there’s an element of discovery that punctuates the story. Dabach and his team of directors capture a wide range of emotions and attitudes, but leave the audience wondering just enough.
Immortal is essentially an anthology of short films, and in fact, the pieces do not intersect, nor do they clarify much. Instead, they offer four slices of life—well, slices of not death—and an intriguing look at what death means to us.