Four friends (Vahan Bayizian, Aris Bayizian, Rick McDonald and Daniel McDonald) from the city head into the Catskills Mountains for a camping trip. Once at camp, the friends meet local Earl (Brian McDonald) and his son Tim (Michael McDonald). Tim has some frightening news to share about the area, enlightening the group to the previous existence of a psychiatric facility that housed four particularly ruthless murderers and deviants in the ’70s. Coincidentally also heading into the woods are two paranormal investigators (Jason Michel and Kellie Michel), hoping to record proof of the paranormal activity rumored to be rampant in the area, which may or may not be connected to the facility.
Rick McDonald’s Lucifer’s Angels is a film that leaves you off-balance for most of its running time, but not in a good way. It’s a film that is full of interchangeable characters with little character development, save what is eventually placed on them after the fact by the film’s climax; a climax that does its best to connect a grander narrative to the confusion that came before.
Which is both appreciated and disappointing. When you hit the final moments of the film, your brain is probably going, “okay, I get the ‘who,’ but I don’t get the ‘why’ at all.” The filmmakers know this, know they didn’t deliver that information in an organic way earlier in the film, so they spell it all out with some text overlays to fully connect all the dots. It’s appreciated because you can make sense of what you just saw, but it’s disappointing because, once you know how everything connects, what you just saw seems pointless.
It seems pointless because you don’t connect with anyone in the film in the interim. Other than knowing the friends’ names, there isn’t much else you know about them until the resolution. It’s a horror movie, and if you guessed them as fodder for brutality then, congrats, you were right. You never root for them to survive because you haven’t been given much reason to care if they do. You actually know more about the murderous crazies than most everyone else.
On the quality side, while the music and audio effects can be a touch overbearing in moments, they are also extremely well-done and polished (the dialogue mix isn’t always up to par, however). Likewise, certain sequences are shot and composed so well, such as the flashback elements, that they seem out of place with the bulk of the film (which is disorienting shaky cam in the woods).
Overall, I think that the idea for Lucifer’s Angels was sound, the filmmakers just left the most interesting elements to flashbacks and textual exposition, choosing to focus the bulk more on the visceral bits that aren’t quite as intriguing or novel. The result is a confusing experience that doesn’t quite connect; a horror film with some choice bits of gore, but little else.
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