Just like the demonic forces that wreak havoc in the halls of Crowley High, cancelled series, Todd and the Book of Pure Evil, is back from the dead. A little bit Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a little bit Ash vs Evil Dead, and a little bit Deathgasm, the show amassed a devoted following during its all-too-short two season run. Now, the series’ unlikely band of heroes are back in the animated movie, Todd and the Book of Pure Evil: The End of the End. Long-time fans will be happy to jump right back into the show’s enjoyable blend of low brow humour, gore, and violence. If you haven’t laid your virgin eyes upon the series yet, you could make better use of the movie’s 80-minute running time.
Todd and the Book of Pure Evil: The End of the End is a treat to fans and serves as a better narrative bookend than the TV show’s final episode. The movie is cut into four 20-minute segments that play like stitched together TV episodes – the movie is essentially a four-episode binge-watch. The movie kicks off with a three-minute prologue which recounts the series’ most important moments. If you haven’t kept up with the show this segment plays like gibberish. All you need to know is these points: Satanic book, terrorized high school, and an improbable group of heroes – and dick jokes… so many dick jokes.
When we catch up with Todd (Alex House) and his “friends” Jenny (Maggie Castle) and Curtis (Bill Turnbull), evil has been banished, the group is broken up, and life is boring. But when the Book of Pure Evil resurfaces and their fallen friend Hannah (Melanie Leishman) returns from the dead, Crowley High students start dying. It’s up to Todd to reunite the crew and finally put an end to the evil forces menacing his school.
So here’s the question on everybody’s mind: Does the show work as an animated film? It does; kind of. The visuals are functional but uninspired and the characters are fair representations of their real-life counterparts. Their faces and body language are expressive and do an excellent job conveying emotion. You understand what the characters are thinking before they say it which isn’t a given in many animated movies and TV shows. We spend most of the film in the High School which looks as interesting as a sack of spoiled potatoes. Most of the scenery is mundane and loaded with dull greys, blacks, and browns and there isn’t anything to hold your eye. A neat visual is flourish is thrown in every now and then – like when Todd sees the Book of Pure Evil’s incorporeal form over his bed – but these moments are fleeting. Sadly, the film looks low-budget, even by animated TV show standards.
The voice work is solid across the board. Nefarious former guidance counter Atticus Murphy Jr. (Chris Leavins) is amusingly over-the-top as the Todd’s scheming former nemesis whose lost his sense of purpose. Much like Danny McBride, Jason Mewes is one of those actors with a voice that could make you laugh as he reads the telephone book. Mewes doesn’t have much to do as Crowley’s new guidance counsellor (and the film’s narrator) but his moments onscreen are memorable. Mewes comes away from the movie with the script’s best line which is a nice feat considering all the quips the movie throws at you.
Long-time fans will be happy to know that two seasons worth of build up (character arcs, running gags) are all paid off – Todd and the Book of Pure Evil’s serialized story carries over into the film. Conversely, there isn’t much here for viewers who go in cold. As much as I tried to stay dialed in, I found myself tuning out by the end of the third segment. Even though 16-year old me would have loved this movie, the film’s potty humour (literal shots of turds floating in a toilet) didn’t hook Victor: 2017 edition; none of the characters won me over either. The film is more concerned with pleasing long-time fans than attracting a new audience and it does so admirably.
If you’ve never caught an episode of Todd and the Book of Pure Evil, this movie isn’t a great entryway into the show. But if Itchy & Scratchy-level violence, Satan worship, and dick-shaped nunchucks, cater to your tastes, then you could do a lot worse. With its solid voice work, flippant tone, and creative acts of violence, Todd and the Book of Pure Evil: The End of the End is a love letter to long-time fans.