Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wednesday Reboot: Fallen

Fallen was released in 1998 and stars  Denzel Washington, John Goodman and Donald Sutherland.  From start to finish this movie is a winner.  It begins with a voice over saying that he is going to tell us about the time he almost died. John Hobbes goes to witness the execution of serial killer Edgar Reese. Instead of being concerned about the fact that he is about to die, Reese seems far more interested in Hobbes.  Reese leaves Hobbes with a riddle when he asks why there is a blank space between two detectives on a plaque that records special awards. As he walks to his execution he sings Time is on My Side and keeps doing so, even as he is strapped into a chair and the gas is released.

Hobbes attempts to look into it but is warned off by Lt. Stanton.  Though Reese is now dead, the serial killings start again.  Hobbes and his partner Jonesy believe that this is a copy cat and decide to look back at the day that Reese was put to death to discover he wasn't actually speaking gibberish but a form of ancient Aramaic, which scholars have never heard spoken before.  Hobbes is not committed to solving the riddle of the empty space.  When Hobbes discovers Gretta Milano, the daughter of Detective Milano the man whose name was in the empty space she tells him to leave this alone if he has even one person that he cares about.  Before Hobbes can leave, she asks him if he believes in God.

Azazel finally makes himself known and Hobbes watches as he switches from body to body through touch.  Having a difficult time wrapping his mind around what he saw, Hobs returns to Gretta's where he learns that Azazel is a demon who loves music and causing havoc in people's lives.  Gretta believes that God placed a select number of humans on earth to fight this evil.

When Azazel set Hobs up for murder and kills his brother Art, Hobbes realises that he has no choice but to run.  He places his nephew Sam with Gretta and attempts to kill Azazel.  I would tell you more but that would ruin the ending of this movie for those who have not seen it. 

Unlike other movies which involve demons, Fallen is not dependent upon special effects to cause a feeling of dread and horror for he viewer.  If the simple act of touch grants access to the demon, this means that anyone at anytime is at risk of being taken over.  Perhaps the most horrifying incarnation of Azazel was when he took over the body of a teenage girl.  Her innocence combined with his evil, was absolutely chilling.

In terms of inclusion, obviously you with Denzel in the role of Hobbes, this means that we have a man of colour as the protagonist. His brother Art, is neurologically atypical but I like the fact that he was raising his own son, though he seemed dependent upon Hobbes.  I wasn't particularly pleased that Art died to prove a point to Hobbes about his vulnerability.  Women did not feature in Fallen prominently.  Gretta Milano seemed to exist only for the purposes of world building, thus connecting the dots for Hobbes.  In the end she ended up being nothing more than a caretaker for Sam. 

Even though we are told at the very beginning of Fallen that we are going to hear about the time that someone almost died, the ending is a complete surprise.  There are a few cinematic clues throughout the movie that suggest the ending but it is not until you reach the end and think about some of the shots that the director chose to include that they become obvious. When it comes to demons in cinema, I  have to say that Fallen is my absolute favorite movie.