Stan (Brad Dourif) is a very lonely individual. Covered with scars, he found refuge in his crematorium working as the local cremator. He also found comfort in something else. Killing the locals who were total jerks and disposing of their bodies by…you guessed it, cremating them. Jarod (Jeremy Sumpter) is a struggling high school kid who’s bullied at school and prefers to be different rather than being one of the clique crowd. Unfortunately, he’s constantly being ridiculed and bullied for being different. When his single mom forces him to go out and get a job, he ends up at…you guessed it again, the crematorium. It takes some convincing, but eventually Stan gives in and lets him work there. Trust and some form of friendship soon builds between the two, and Jarod figures out Stan’s secret and the two discover that they’re on the same page when it comes to disposing of crappy people. Unfortunately, when Jarod kills his mom’s boyfriend, he’s very sloppy about it and Stan has to come to the rescue before a local cop investigating the murders discovers the truth.
From the initial description of this film, I thought this film was going to have some elements of dark humor to it, and I guess it does here and there, but it’s so subtle as to be irrelevant. What we’re actually presented with is a film that, while it does have some good elements to it, mostly just fails because it’s so poorly written.
The film itself is well made from a production standpoint, and the actors all did what they could with the characters they were presented with. The only character you’ll likely care anything about in this film is Stan, because he’s obviously been through a lot in his life. As for Jarod, he just comes off as a typical emo kid with an underlying sense of being a decent kid in many ways. It was the fact that he came off as kind of an emo kid that turned me off to his character. If he’d have been presented as just a nerdy, smart kid who was being bullied, I’d have felt a lot more sympathetic toward him.
The bullies in the film are basically stenciled in from a million other movies. The jock and hot girl clique who delight in torturing those they see as inferior. Hell, we even had characters like that in Revenge of the Nerds. I mean come on, the lack of character depth really made it all quite uninteresting.
The biggest problem with this film is that, from the looks of it, Stan’s been killing people pretty regularly. So why the hell haven’t the police formed a task force to find the local serial killer? They have one cop on the case, and while he’s presented and shrewd and capable, you have to wonder if he really is. Why? Because Stan is so sloppy with the way he kills people that even the Keystone Cops could have solved the case before this guy finally figured out what was going on.
The only thing that really worked for me in this film on any level was the relationship between Stan and Jarod, and even that was iffy at best. They didn’t spend much time communicating, and when they did, it was mostly just awkward. The connection between them was more unspoken than it was something that was communicated openly, which in its own way was pretty cool I guess.
Thinking back on the film, I realize that I can’t be too hard on the writers, or anyone else involved with it for that matter, as this is one of those stories that probably sounded pretty good on paper, but when you see it executed on the screen, it just doesn’t work all that well. I didn’t love this film, but I can’t really say I hated it either. Mostly, the only feeling it left me with was a vast sense of indifference. I can’t recommend the film, but neither can I say I hated it. There are far better films out there to spend your time on, and far worse ones that will waste your time. In general, I’d say to skip this one, simply because there are just so many other films out there that bring a lot more to the table.
If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out its homepage at http://deathandcremation.com.
This film is available on DVD from Amazon here.