Wednesday, October 28, 2009

30 Days of Fright - 27: End of Days

There aren't many films that you could accurately describe as Action/Horror but it's by far the best way to describe the amazing trip that is End of Days.

Governor Schwarzenegger (R-CA) plays Jericho Cane, an ex-cop turned heavy drinking, heavy hitting, private security specialist protecting those who can pay in downtown New York city in late 1999. He is tasked with providing security for some yuppie banker type played by Gabriel Byrne who has just recently been possessed by the Devil and is walking the Earth in an attempt to find a particular girl who is capable of having his child and thus usher in a new reign of Hell on Earth.

Cane saves the yuppie from an assassination attempt by a wayward priest who warns him of the impending End of Days and sparks some of that old cop instinct. Cane investigates and realises that the old priest was trying to protect a certain girl - the same one old Gabriel is interested in - from a rather nasty fate as the Antichrist's mammy. Meanwhile, the Devil is on hot pursuit of his new girlfriend, who’s been living with a bunch of Satanists all her life without realizing it. Old Nick turns up to claim his woman but is foiled by Arnie who takes the poor girl under his wing.

The Devil, being who he is, doesn’t take kindly to this, and tries to tempt Ahnold into betraying the girl and revealing where she’s hidden by offering him back his wife and young daughter who had been murdered, and thus return him to the life he had known before their deaths. Being the decent bloke he is, the Governator doesn’t rat the girl out, which forces the Devil into a more drastic course of action, just as the New Year approaches…

 Where's Gabriel's other hand?

I first mentioned this movie here and it in part inspired this blog - my original Halloween movie reviews from 2008 had been published on my Bebo page and it was time for a new home and at the time I’d been spending a lot of time thinking about how rare real hackers are and how rare real Devil worshippers are, hence Hacker’s Coven (it’s a blog for them both!), so you can probably guess that I like this film. You’d be right!

However, End of Days is a deeply flawed movie on many levels. Firstly, The Devil, while pretty naughty is, well, not very Satanic. He has some powers and he likes to kill skateboarders, but while he can look into the hearts of men and see their deepest desires he is incapable of keeping track of the one girl he really needs. Somehow he knew she was in New York but after that he’s clueless. He’s able to bend space and time to present Arnie with the chance to have his family back, but for some reason he couldn’t nip back to yer one’s birth and maybe have some sort of tracking device surgically implanted into her. And while he’s able to survive a fall from an apartment window onto the street below he gets badly hurt when hit by a train or shot with the right sort of gun.

The acting in the film is, to be fair, totally shite, except for Gabriel Byrne who did a decent enough turn (though he was channeling Al Pacino as the Devil on more than one occasion). Kevin Pollak (Hockney from The Usual Suspects) was good too and I’d like to have seen more of him in the movies, but I think his inclusion in End of Days played a big part in the other major problem the film suffers from.

End of Days feels like a rip-off of some other films. There are some very strong parallels between End of Days and The Devil's Advocate. Both movies deal with the Devil trying to start a family, both feature power-house performances from the actor in the diabolical role that greatly outshines everything else in the movie, both are set in New York, both are set in the winter (so as to allow the main men to wear long coats), and both feature the hero of the story suffering roughly the same fate. Also, there are a good number of times when Pollak and Byrne are on screen that you think you’re watching the (really fucked up) sequel to The Usual Suspects, you half expect Arnie to cut out the accent and start walking properly as you figure out he was Keyser Soze all along.

Despite its failings, End of Days is a really fun movie that has enough blood and guts and Satanism to make it a horror as well as plenty of guns and bullets to make it an action flick. It’s really hard to watch End of Days and see Arnie peg the Devil out of a window and not think “fuckin’ a!”

Two Thumbs Up for End of Days


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