Wednesday, 18 June 2014
This is another one of those films I first saw many years ago (nearly 15, in this case), later bought on DVD, and then never actually watched.
The first thing I noticed as I fired it up was how great the cast is: Denzel Washington, John Goodman, Donald Sutherland, James Gandolfini and Embeth Davidtz. Not a bad ensemble at all.
Washington is John Hobbes, the detective who caught serial killer Edgar Reece. Reece is about to be executed when he shakes Hobbes's hand, mutters in some strange language, and then sings "Time is on My Side" as poison gas floods the chamber.
And that's the end of that, right? Well, no. Because while he was at large, Reece had a habit of calling Hobbes in the middle of the night as a way of taunting him. And guess which Detective's phone starts a-ringing in the early hours of the morning?
This is followed by killings that mimic Reece's, as well as strange clues that point to a police officer who committed suicide thirty years earlier. Hobbes follows the clues with dogged determination, eventually meeting the dead officer's daughter. After considerable pressure, she finally reveals what he's facing: Azazel, a fallen angel with a love of both music and murder, and the ability to possess human hosts at whim.
So at least Hobbes knows what he's up against ... but how do you stop a creature that's thousands of years old and doesn't have a body to kill?
This is an entertaining thriller with some nicely creepy scenes, especially in the middle act. The final confrontation is also well-executed, and nicely set-up by earlier events in the script. It's not going to be to all tastes, but it's a considerably better effort than some of the other supernaturally-themed thrillers that were briefly in vogue as the end of the millenia loomed (End of Days and Stigmata, I am looking at you).