A dark and dramatic build up to a not so impressive ending for this sprightly occult laced mystery. I could see a lot of outstanding horror connections and there is even a (slight) cameo from satanic black metal band Behemoth but ultimately in the end I just didn’t see the point but in it’s defense the film did give me ultimate motherfucker of all jump scares that I will never forget.
The movie starts with an energetic and passionate cop Bruce Kenner (Ethan Hawke) on the hunt for justice after a young girl, Angela Gray (Emma Watson) has been sexually abused and is hiding from her family at a local church. After failing at all paths of investigation he attempts a new form of questioning involving Professor Kenneth Raines’s ( David Thewlis) regression method and through a form of hypnosis a satanic cult that has engulfed the town is slowly revealed. Based on real events this film does offer a lot of thrilling suspense and intrigue a few jumps and some psychological terror but wains when it comes to gore and horror.
The dark Se7en-esque atmosphere is enhanced by multiple rainy Minnesota night scenes and darkened barns (that happen to harbour a fucking hell beast), and a well crafted sinister soundtrack.
Everything about Alejandro Amenábar’s film casts doubt, it cultivates a culture of looking at small details and taking a side. What starts out as a run of the mill child abuse story suddenly becomes a dark bloody story about sacrificing babies and cult persecution. Kenner’s mental stability comes into question as he encounters many late night terrors as the satanic group single him out. He’s plagued by silent phone calls, intruders, strange dreams and becomes hyper paranoid as strangers stare at him everywhere he goes, is this an invitation or is he on a occult hit list?
Fast paced thrilling mystery film that uncovers a potential child killing satanic cult acting in a small Minnesota town..
The film is very much in two halves, the first is a gritty detective mystery, one lose cop is out to get his man, Kenner is determined, quick witted and in control, but nothing is adding up, eventually after some more interactions with Angela (Watson) and after the regression sessions with the sound minded Professor things start to skew and the lines get incredibly blurry, the occult gets heavily involved and Kenner is a fish out of water.
Hawke had to carry this movie, there are a few good actors backing him up like Dale Dickey who plays a strong religious grandmother Rose, and her son (father to Angela and first accused of her abuse) is played by the multi skilled Swedish/Danish actor Karl David Sebastian Dencik. There is a particularly dramatic scene where Rose is being accused of cult punishments and she starts protesting her innocence “I know who i am.. I know who I am” which was equal to the ending scenes of Angel Heart (1987) other similarities are various scenes from the Omen Series where creepy people are starring characters down in the street and weird red eyed animals turn up as in The Rite (2011) but this one feline in the barn scene scared the literal piss out of me.. so watch out for that.
Overall I would have preferred a movie that had a lot more blood and guts, but that’s just how I roll. Yes there is a strong argument that it’s based on real events and doesn’t need the gore to make the film more horrific, and I appreciate what it is, I just found it more of a mystery than a horror. I found there were two main scares and one of them really was enough for an ailurophobe like myself.. thanks guys, but it doesn’t have the power it needed to really drive the “twist” at the end. Sadly it was let down by Emma Watson I found her character as as useful as zhizhi zhang in Horseman (2009) but she has no excuse because she can speak the language. It was great seeing Behemoth on a poster starring down Hawke in one of the later scenes, but I dunno if they were on tour in that area in the 90’s or not.. still it’s a nice touch.
R – The Omen, Angel Heart, The Rite, The Devils, Devil Rides Out
L – Satanic films, Real Murder Mysteries
A – Why do satanist always wear robes in films AKA how satanism portrayed on film.
5B – Ethan Hawke, David Thewlis, Karl Dencik