Director – Gregory Hoblet
Cast – Denzel Washington, John Goodman, Donald Sutherland, Embeth Davidtz, James Gandolfini, Elias Koteas, Gabriel Casseus, Michael J. Pagan, Robert Joy
Release Year – 1998
Reviewed by John of the Dead
This is a film that had been on my queue for a very long time, but I could never find a solid two hours to devote to it’s 124 minute runtime until now. I knew going into this film that it would not be a devout horror effort but more of a supernatural thriller instead, however the elements of horror at play were plentiful and made for a film that most horror fans can find joy in. The storyline is an interesting one that I found unique for the genre, and coupled with good direction it made for an enjoyable two-hour experience.
Homicide detective John Hobbes can finally chalk up another victory in the name of justice when he personally witnesses the execution of Edgar Reese, a seasoned serial killer caught by Hobbes himself. His joy and relief are short-lived though when soon after the execution a series of murders matching Reese’s style occur around the city, with each murder hitting closer and closer to home for Det. Hobbes.
What I really wanted going into this piece was a smart cat-and-mouse game adorned with good kills and a satisfying climax, and despite my enjoyment of this piece only a few of those qualities were achieved. The storyline included many of the usual serial killer vs. cop antics, but things got creative when the supernatural element kicked in as we learn the serial killer had managed to swap his soul with an ancient demon capable of possessing different bodies simply by touch. This allowed the killer to keep Hobbes constantly out of the loop and always several steps behind him until he figured out what was going on, which still left him at a severe disadvantage against a killer with a strong agenda to hunt down the man that hunted him down. Nearly all of the film deals with the investigative process as well as Reese’s torment of Hobbes through his peers, strangers, and even family, which made for good conflict and tension as well. Once the third act kicks in we are given a few twists and turns, and sadly writer Nicholas Kazan built them up to fall when he gave us a truly pathetic and stupid climax that I left me with my head in my hands. This was really the only major fault in the film so it did not hurt the overall experience very much, but this definitely was not a good way to end a positive film.
Director Gregory Hoblit did well with this piece, giving us great atmosphere and engaging visuals that kept my interest throughout this two hour film. The sets used are fantastic, and along with his grainy and somber cinematography the atmosphere really envelops in the gloomy world that Hobbes is forced to live in as he is tortured by an unseen killer. Of course Denzel Washington is great in his role and sells every line of his with great poise, and thankfully several other great actors were cast to aid him in this, including Donald Sutherland, John Goodman, and James Gandolfini. I really wanted to see better kill sequences in this film, and while I knew better than to expect kills like those in Se7en (a relative film), I did expect better than the ones we were given here. We see little to no gore, and what little gore we do see comes at the end of the film via a few bullets to the heads of some unfortunate fellows. Hoblit’s credits show that he has a knack for these thriller type films, and given his lack of gore in every other effort it seems it is just not his style.
Overall, Fallen is a positive supernatural thriller giving us some cool concepts not normally seen in the cop vs. serial killer sub-genre, and along with good direction from Gregory Hoblit we are given an engaging film that never loses touch during its two hour runtime. The kills are nothing special but they failed to affect this film in a negative manner. Recommended if you enjoy these thriller-type flicks.