Deathdealer: A Documentary. DVD. Directed by Andrew T. Watts. 2004; New York (Film Movement), 2004.
Henry Rollins plays death as a salesman.
Rollins portrays a character who knows who he is, what he does, and is trapped in loneliness. I found myself feeling sorry for the character--but then I caught myself: the character is death. There's the dark comedy of the film.
Henry Rollins as an Actor
Some complain that when Henry Rollins acts, his characters are one dimensional. In the short film "Deathdealer: A Documentary," he plays the role of Death straight and shows plenty of emotion and internal conflict. Much of thefilm shows Rollins playing his character in close-up shots where facial expression and voice are paramount. Death, of course, does not change in the film; perhaps this film is the ideal vehicle for Henry Rollins. He certainly gives a nuanced performance.
The film "Deathdealer" is a mockumentary about death. This subject is dark material for comedy, and not everyone will enjoy this film.
The set-up of the film is simple. A film crew makes a documentary about Death, whose first name we learn is Vincent, as he does his job. When Vincent touches people, they die. Vincent travels from place to place, staying in business hotels, and receiving faxed lists of clients to visit. Rollins dresses conservatively in a suit, white shirt, and tie throughout the film.
In one particularly amusing scene, Vincent enters a hospital room before the filmmakers are ready. We see a boom operator anda cameraman in a hospital room with Vincent's client. The director tells Vincent to make his entrance again after the director says "action."
This film is brief (under 15 minutes), but it shows something of what can be done in a character-driven short film. Although Rollins plays a character who really can't change, the change is in the actor who plays the director. It's a worthy twist.
Notes and Asides
In looking back over this review, I see that I've not said anything about how the film considers deathdealer as a career, an important part of the film's satire. I also should have noted that the name Vincent means "conquering."
This film is available in two places on YouTube, but one video is subtitled in Spanish and the other lacks credits; I suspect TOS and copyright violations. If you want to see the film, I suggest you pay for it by renting it, buying it from Film Movement, or (your taxes count as payment) checking it out from your public library.
A version of this article appeared on Triond's Cinemaroll site: http://cinemaroll.com/cinemarolling/deathdealer-a-documentary-a-short-dark-and-comic-film-starring-henry-rollins/