Fallen Angels (2007)
Directed by Jeff Thomas
In a soon to be demolished correctional facility a small room is found containing the skeletal remains of many children. The recovery of this ghastly tomb has opened a gateway for eight fallen angels and the inevitable return of …RUTH BUZZI! Can mankind battle this many forces of pure evil at once?
Whoever said, “You can never have too much of a good thing,” may not have had Fallen Angels in mind. Though this film does have many high points, including some of the many cameos, there is a lot of trouble with its execution and a few needless characters that pull the whole thing down.
Let's start with the smallest of annoyances first -- the camera work. All too often there are scenes that constantly zoom in or zoom out on an actors face. This technique is employed so frequently that it does nothing more than serve as a distraction. There is simply no need to see someone's mug fill the screen during even the calmest moments of the movie. Does it work when a psychic (Buzzi) is contacting a violent ghost? Yes. Does it work when two gentlemen are discussing religion? No, and for the record -- the close-ups on Buzzi were enough to last for the entire feature, thank you.
Then there is the largest problem: Farah White's character, Tamela. You see, Tamela's daughter has gone missing after an early scene in the movie and she spends a good chunk of Fallen Angels running around in circles during her desperate search. The problem with Tamela is that she just doesn't contribute anything. Even though her daughter is somewhat important to a certain plot element, she never evolves into anything more than the distressed mother who got to see Ruth Buzzi make interesting faces. Honestly, if the mother/daughter plot device had been cut out it is doubtful anyone would have noticed.
I just had to get those two things out of the way, up front since this reviewer believes there is a good film hidden under the thorny bushes. Fallen Angels shining achievements are in monster design and dialogue. The film is somehow able to transmit a message about faith without becoming a heavy handed circus about who is right and who is damned. A great example of this would be the dialogue between McCarthy and Kaliski's respective characters in which the faithful and the faithless try to make sense out of the plot's events. The genuine way each actor plays out their roll here feels strong without stretching into outrageous grandstanding about their views … not to mention there is a certain pleasure associated with seeing McCarthy playing a serious roll this late in his career in a horror film.
The monsters may not be as strong as the dialogue and borrow their look heavily from some things that escaped out of Clive Barker's closet, however don't let that be an indication that they are not quality creatures. Each of the fallen angels, save the lusty one (who I just wanna bang), are frightening to behold. None of them really get to go on huge bloody rampages, but the minimalist approach keeps them creepy. Too much screen time may have worn out their welcome. Each demon is based on a certain sin, but the film doesn't always play by its own rules as quite a few of these monstrocities never get a chance to match their kills to their respective deadly sin. Unless of course there's a sin out there that goes along with having your eyes popped out which I am not privy to.
When we sweep all the cameos, monsters and gore aside what is left? A story about religious beliefs or lack thereof? Not really. Even though much of the movie's best dialogue involves a discussion of faith, the film never feels like that is what it is ultimately about. One could say that Fallen Angels has elements of a detective or C.S.I. type story, and that's what we're doing here. Maybe. Sort of. I guess? It would be easy to dub this flick a mess, yet in all honesty it isn't. There's just such a mishmash of ideas and oddities presented here that Fallen Angels just seems to work without really having a payoff or steady plot line. I'm not even entirely sure why that is. Fuck, did I even really like this? Maybe the real mystery here goes a lot deeper than we think. After watching this I no longer feel whole. Can I have my brain back now? Someone? Anyone? Hello?
3 out of 5
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