1998; Rated R; 123 Minutes
Denzel Washington: John Hobbes
John Goodman: Jonesy
Donald Sutherland: Lt. Stanton
Embeth Davidtz: Gretta Milano
Elias Koteas: Edgar Reese
Produced by Robert
Cavallo, Elon Dershowitz, Patricia Graf, Nicholas Kazan,
Ted Kurdyla, Charles Roven, Kelley Smith-Wait, Dawn Steel
and Richard Suckle; Directed by Gregory Hoblit; Screenwritten
by Nicholas Kazan
by DAVID KEYES
contains some frightening and intense elements that would
normally make a great serial killer film. It is reminiscent
of the third "Exorcist" movie, in which a dead killer uses
living human bodies as possessions to continue the murdering,
just as a cop comes into the situation and attempts to solve
the mystery. The main difference is that the third "Exorcist"
film worked well with the material it was given. Gregory
Hoblit, the guy who directed "Fallen," leaves too many unanswered
and confusing questions at the end of his picture, all leading
up to the point where it falls short of being a worthy effort.
I wouldn't go so far to claim the movie bad, but perhaps
as far as to claim it dead.
so I was frightened and enveloped in the movie. In fact,
it stirred fright in me like "The Silence Of The Lambs"
did seven years ago. But "The Silence Of The Lambs" was
able to make sense of the story by explaining it through
character dialogue. "Fallen" does not do that in any necessary
way, and by the end of the movie, it basically becomes an
attempt to predict what did or did not happen during the
film's unfolding. We cannot be sure, and must draw our own
conclusions. This would, too, work with a movie well, like
it did with "Picnic At Hanging Rock," but the story and
direction in "Fallen" is a brief and unique one--if you
jump to the wrong conclusions about its missing plot twists,
then you can get the wrong interpretation of what the movie
is actually about.
on to what screenwriter Nicholas Kazan says the movie is
about: John Hobbes is a cop who has troubles. After years
of searching and plotting, he finally caught legendary serial
killer Edgar Reese, the most wanted criminal in America.
When Reese is executed, Hobbes thinks all of his fears and
troubles are finally at and end. But then as Hobbes passes
through the streets, he sees people passing by singing the
same tune and talking in the same town as Reese once did.
One person walks by acting like Reese, touches another,
and then he/she becomes Reese. Hobbes becomes paranoid eventually
at this, and shoots one of the people who is inhabited by
it's not really the killer. Hobbes, after secluding his
family from the outside world, learns of a fallen angel
legend from the years past called Azazel, who mythically
masqueraded as a dead soul by passing through human forms.
you've seen "The Exorcist III," you obviously know how the
story is toned. People get killed again, others get hurt,
Hobbes gets suspicious, and does some of his own investigating,
eventually uncovering the whole plot which, surprisingly,
is ingenious and creative.
approach for the serial killer genre here is fantastic.
It brings in the urban legend-ish background to tie in with
the murdering spree, which, somehow, seems right out of
"Seven." By the time the movie reached its climax, I was
enthralled, and actually wanted to see more movie.
this is what I will regret saying. The last frames of the
picture, which, normally, would shed some relief on the
suspiciousness of the plot and its direction, are left without
anything answered. No characters, no dialogue, and nothing
tangible enlightens the tension here, therefore forcing
us out of the theater in attempts to draw our own conclusions.
is also the exact problem. Normally, this thing would be
okay, but with a plot like "Fallen's," jumping to a conclusion
is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Any type
of wrong conclusion can easily mislead some people from
what the story was actually trying to accomplish. This was
a fallen angel which masqueraded as the killer, but according
to some others, it was actually the killer, or it was the
killer pretending to be a fallen angel.
you see what I mean? Which of these is supposed to be right?
You'd think the movie would at least take into context that
people can easily be mislead by these conclusions. Why did
they insist on leaving out the important information?
of this, I cannot recommend "Fallen." Yes, it was true to
the serial killer formula. Yes, it was entertaining. Yes,
it was frightening. But it would have been more with a relief
in story. Movies need story. "Fallen" has it, but not in
a way for us to understand.
1998, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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