Directed by John Eyres [Other horror films: Project Shadowchaser III (1995), Judge and Jury (1996), Octopus (2000), Ripper (2001)]
This is a bit of an odd film. Lucifer (which was apparently released under the much catchier title Goodnight, God Bless later on) is a slasher with a fantastic opening, but very little past that point really makes an impact.
I have to first say, though, that I don’t quite know the origins of this one. It’s filmed in London, and multiple reviewers call it a British movie, which makes sense, but then IMDb lists the country of origin as Canada, so I don’t know what that’s about. I’ll just assume it’s a Canadian film made in London for some reason, as that’s really all I have to work on.
No matter where it’s from, though, that opening is strong. It’s also sort of sad, because nothing else in the movie comes even close to matching it, but hey, I guess if you start off strong, then that’s the risk you have to run.
A man dressed as a priest approaches a schoolyard – kids are frollicking and playing as kids do, and being watched over by a teacher. The priest enters the yard, and the teacher walks up to him. It’s a short conversation, though, as he pulls out a knife and stabs her. He then pulls a handgun out and shoots the kids. He doesn’t kill all of them – only five children die in the opening (we see their body bags a little later on) but one of the girls he does attempt to kill gets lucky, and becomes the focus of his obsession throughout the film.
Not too many horror films deal with the death of kids in a senseless act of violence like this, and I definitely appreciated how this film ignored convention and began with five young kids getting shot in a schoolyard. Masterful opening, definitely memorable, and it’s a shame little else in the film does much.
Which isn’t to say the other kills are bad – there was an okay one dealing with a police officer falling prey to a spike-trap of sorts, which was sort of fun. There was an almost suspenseful scene in a movie theater in which the priest stabbed a knife through the chair in front of him, which would have killed the target had they not dropped something and was leaning forward to pick it up. Even so, for a slasher film, Lucifer just doesn’t have enough pop, and feels far more sluggish than one would hope.
Frank Rozelaar-Green wasn’t a very interesting lead, but then again, Emma Burdon-Sutton wasn’t particularly noteworthy either, but I guess Jane Price did well as a young kid who almost gets killed multiple times throughout the movie. Really, there’s no great performances here, and that coupled with the sluggish nature of the film, not to mention bloodless kills, is a disappointment.
Oh, I should mention a couple of more things. We never find out the killer’s identity – despite the fact we never see his face and it just seems that his identity might be important, I guess we were misled (which is a mild shame, because while simple in design, I did like the killer’s priest look). Also, the final scene, in which there’s a confession given, strikes me as nonsensical, unnecessary, and somewhat ridiculous.
Lucifer (or as I prefer, Goodnight, God Bless) is a dull film with not much aside from the opening truly going for it. For a late 80’s British/Canadian slasher, I’m guessing there’s not a lot of choices out there, so if you’re desperate, give this a watch. Otherwise, this isn’t a great film, nor a good one, and though I recommend watching the first five minutes, most of this film isn’t worth it.