Directed by William Bindley [Other horror films: N/A]
In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, religiously-themed horror films were all the rage, as the Millennium was upon us, and religious people are scared of even numbers, and as such, films such as Stigmata, End of Days, Lost Souls, The Ninth Gate, The Calling, and Bless the Child were borne into the world. Few of these are good, and while The Eighteenth Angel isn’t without merits, it still struggles to really stand out.
I will admit it was sort of funny seeing Christopher McDonald take the lead here. While McDonald has done a little horror in the past (1990’s Playroom), I know him almost solely from one of my favorite comedies, being Happy Gilmore (Shooter McGavin), but despite being unable to take him seriously at first, he did a really good job. Playing his daughter was Rachael Leigh Cook, and while her agency was limited toward the last third of the film, she had a strong start.
Not too many others here are all that memorable. Stanley Tucci has a few good scenes, most of those coming in the last thirty minutes or so. Wendy Crewson (Skullduggery of all places) didn’t have much to do past the first five minutes, but she was okay. Maximilian Schnell (Vampires) was a bit generic, but I guess John Crowther’s flowing hair was nice.
Actually, the story here was decent. It dealt with an Etruscian cult who, while buying into the framework of Christianity, instead dedicated their works to Satan, and by binding science and religion, hoped to fulfill some prophecy from the Etruscian Book of the Dead by using genetics, modeling, horses, and beauty. Yeah, being prophecy, not much is clear, but hey, that’s religion for you.
As it was, the conclusion to this film isn’t one that I’d personally call satisfactory, but I will give it points for being a bit different than I’d have expected. It was sort of ridiculous in some ways, but still, it was different.
To the film’s credit, there were some amusing kills in the film. One character is attacked and maimed by a bunch of cats, and another befalls a painful-looking spike-thingy. Even another is almost strangled by a pair of horses, which was a scene that was probably a lot more amusing to me than it should have been, given the emotional punch it did almost pack.
While The Eighteenth Angel did take a little bit to really become something I’d consider engaging, I will also say that the finale as a whole was pretty thrilling. I still think the film’s a bit below average, but The Eighteenth Angel did pick up nicely, and despite not personally caring for the final scenes, at least it picked up the pace.
Overall, when it comes to end-of-the-century horror, The Eighteenth Angel isn’t terrible. I don’t think there’s enough here for it to be good, but if you’re looking for some religiously-themed horror that is perhaps a bit more obscure, and one that has some occasionally decent scenes of cats attacking people, this may be a movie to look into.
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