Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fallen Angels (2007)

Fallen Angels falls under the category of the worst type of horror films – one that starts with a great premise but squanders its potential in the execution. Fallen Angels had plenty of promise, but it is riddled with bad story writing and poor pacing, which leads to a very dull movie.

An old and foreboding prison is slated for demolition to make way for a shopping mall, but construction is halted when a secret sub-chamber containing the remains of many long-dead children is discovered. A special forensic team from the FBI is called in to investigate the bodies and perhaps find their killer. Meanwhile, a local teen is found dead while another girl is missing. The investigative team finds that strange murders have plagued the small town for 150 years. They soon discover that seven demons, or fallen angels, each representing the 7 Deadly Sins, hold dominion over that particular town and are responsible for the town’s gruesome and grisly deaths. Can the FBI team, along with the mother of the missing girl, stop the killings?

Like mentioned before, the premise for Fallen Angels sounded very promising, but unfortunately its execution made for a very dull horror film. Not even the familiar faces of Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes), Bill Moseley (The Devil’s Rejects), Kevin McCarthy (Invasion of the Body Snatchers), Kane Hodder, Reggie Bannister (Phantasm), Ruth Buzzi or David Hess (Last House on the Left) in lead to cameo roles could help this floundering flick.

The film starts off weakly by not laying some kind of groundwork for what we are about to witness. The characters and story are not introduced clearly enough, which starts the film off on the wrong foot. The narrative is disjointed, confusing and leaves the viewer bored instead of intrigued. Things go downhill from there with unnecessary characters, too many plot points and not enough time spent on the real mystery at hand.

I will say that it is refreshing to see something other than the usual hack ‘n’ slash flick, but the story (written by Jeff Thomas, who also directs) is just poorly crafted. I did enjoy how the religion aspect was presented and how it really gives viewers something to think about. The ending of the film will be a let down for most genre fans, though I enjoyed its exploration of faith and religion. Still, it seems an easy and far too tidy way of wrapping things up. The rest of the script just seemed convoluted and cluttered. There are a few glimmers of greatness, but unfortunately it is too dull to really sparkle.

The wonderfully creepy setting of the film also felt misused to me. The prison where the film was shot is the supposedly haunted Mansfield State Reformatory in Ohio, which is spooky without the benefit of set dressing. Its cobwebbed cells and long, dark hallways make the Reformatory a very foreboding place. Yet, in Fallen Angels the prison setting doesn’t come alive as much as I’d hoped. The atmosphere just doesn’t drip dread like in other haunted institution flicks such as the spooky Session 9.

The acting was not bad for a low budget film. I especially enjoyed seeing Bill Moseley in the role of a crime scene investigator. Genre fans out there will be disappointed if they expect to see much of anyone else of note, though. Hodder, Bannister and Hess are in blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em cameos, while Berryman, McCarthy and Buzzi are relegated to one scene each. The rest of the actors, including reality “star” Adrianne Curry, Star Trek: The Next Generation actor Michael Dorn, Daniel Zacapa and Farah White, do a decent job as well.

The special FX, done by Bob Keen (who has worked on makeup and special FX for Hellraiser, Candyman, Isolation and Dog Soldiers), are very well done. The demons do look a bit silly at times and don’t seem to really fit their 7 Deadly Sins alter egos. Besides that, the gore looks great! There is one terrifically terrifying teeth pulling scene and a few inventive kills, but those didn’t make up for the lackluster storyline. I was expecting to see more of the seven demons and learn more about them, but they were never properly introduced or given much screen time. The story behind the seven demons isn’t even explored that much. Instead we focus on far too many investigators tramping around the prison looking for answers. Besides these unnecessary characters, we also have the mother (played by Farah White) searching for her missing daughter. She doesn’t add anything except dead weight to an already precariously overburdened storyline.

Despite a few moments that seemingly shine in Fallen Angels, all that sparkles is not gold. If you are searching for a creepy horror flick of the demon persuasion, Fallen Angels is unfortunately not your best pick. It is a poorly written, lackluster and dull. Despite claims that it has an intelligent, solid story, the only intelligent thing about this film is that they cast a bunch of genre favorites so that eager horror fans like you and me would be tricked into dumping our money in this poorly executed film.

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