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Fallen

Starring Denzel Washington, John Goodman and Donald Sutherland
Screenplay by Nicholas Kazan
Directed by Gregory Hoblit

IN SHORT:  ...and it can't get up.

Cranky was actually looking forward to Denzel Washington's Fallen 'cuz it looked like something different than the average slice and dice bucket o' blood horror flick. But my mom got sick so I sent eDrive's horror-meister Trent Haaga, who files this report:

Hey, I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm a sucker for a horror movie. Can't get enough of 'em. So when Cranky gets a little bogged down and there's a new fright flick, he sends me to scout it out. This week it was the new Denzel Washington thriller ("it's a thriller, not a horror movie") Fallen.

Detective John Hobbes (Washington) is a sickeningly moral and vice- free (unless you count coffee - there's a lot of coffee drinking in this film) cop responsible for the capture and execution of sadistic serial killer Edgar Reese (Elias Koteas). Reese gets gassed and, faster than you can say Wes Craven's Shocker, the bald and jumpsuited killer is a spectral force able to jump from person to person at the slightest touch.

Okay. So far, not too bad. The disembodied Reese begins another killing spree, leaving taunting clues for Det. Hobbes. What's going on? Is there a copycat killer? Did Reese have an accomplice? And why have Hobbes' bosses and partners (Donald Sutherland and John Goodman) been looking at him so suspiciously? Up until this point, Fallen is a police procedure/serial killer movie with intriguing possibilities. Then Hobbes meets a theology professor in the process of the investigation. Faster than you can say, The Hidden, Friday the 13th Part 9, and The Thing, the being known as Reese is discovered to really be - you guessed it - an ancient evil older than mankind itself who is hellbent on the destruction of human life as we know it.

As soon as this happens, the movie ceases to be scary or thrilling in any way. The killer, who once had a face, identity, and (flimsy) motive becomes another shapeless evil entity. And Denzel, a bland 2-D character of superhuman honesty and integrity, becomes the defacto defender of humanity.

Fallen is a muddled mess, uncertain if it's a cop film or an Omen rip-off. I should've known something was amiss when the film started with a pseudo-metaphysical film noir voice over. And the "clever twist ending" is neither clever nor twisty. I hate it when a movie thinks that it's smarter than it is. The Beavis and Butthead feature makes millions of dollars not because people are stupid, but because we'll buy what you sell us. The makers of Fallen are trying to sell a Usual Suspects of horror, but it's really just another Nightmare on Elm Street sequel with respectable clothing. It's called honesty in advertising. If your movie is silly and cheap, be up front about it (I'll certainly be more forgiving)! The film makers seem to think that if you throw enough cliches at the screen, it will sublimate the fact that your film "has 'Fallen' and can't get up."

Were I able to set my own price for seeing Fallen (a la Cranky),

$1.00

Cranky here: Actually Trent's price was a helluva lot lower, but he lives and breathes this kind o' flick and the dollar ratings *do* mean something. Fallen rates somewhere around "let your friend rent it for you," which is a buck.


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