Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Review of Richard Dutcher's "Evil Angel"

Personally, I found Dutcher's newest movie difficult to process. Partly it's because I just recently saw "Fallen," which has so much more substance and nuance to it. Yes, I know, "Evil Angel" is a horror genre film, so it's not fair to compare... But I enjoyed "Fallen" much more than expected and "Evil Angel" much less.

Now, it's going to be extremely easy for Mormons to call Dutcher a fallen angel because of this movie. And personally, I think he is one. While the movie is somewhat entertaining on the horror level, it really has no redeeming qualities. I see my share of R-rated movies and feel that there is a place in stories for gore and nudity and profanity, but I found "Evil Angel" to be a very hard R in a mostly gratuitous, worthless way. Dutcher follows the Hollywood trend of mixing violence/gore with sex and/or humor in a way that personally makes me quite queasy.

While I admit I was engaged with the movie at times and sometimes jumped or laughed, overall the story is not very well developed or satisfying. The potentially interesting Lilith legend is just a throwaway background element to justify a thoroughly evil bitch who wants to murder everyone. The movie is mostly just a blatantly superficial, perverse gore and nudity fest, pandering to the modern-day audience of today's declining American civilization.

I lose interest in these auteurs who jettison their Mormonism. LaBute holds absolutely no interest for me now, and I've pretty much written off Dutcher now too, although I would see future movies of his if reviews made them sound interesting enough. I wouldn't see another one in a mode anything like "Evil Angel," though.

Overall, leaving the theater I felt bad for and about Dutcher. I avoided him in the lobby. I know nothing about his wife or kids or their status in the Church or anything, but I can't imagine this film is something they can be totally proud of, although Dutcher's wife was listed in the credits as a crew chief or something like that. She's got quite the mid-life crisis on her hands here to ride out.

When Dutcher left Mormonism, I thought it might be for something better, or at least something that he thought was better. But there's obviously no sign of anything like that in "Evil Angel." What "Evil Angel" shows is that Dutcher has shed all traces of Mormon moral or spiritual discipline and has gone full monty into worldliness. Hopefully he'll make a little money from "Evil Angel" that he can use to make movies as good as "States of Grace" or "Fallen" again, but I really think he's sold his soul in some ways with "Evil Angel."


Bryan said...

I'm a devout horror fan and a devout Mormon and I've grown pretty tired of reviews for this film that take a hand-washing attitude toward the genre. Being a horror film is not an excuse for a movie being bad or sloppy.

The following horror films have next-to-no graphic violence or nudity and are still superb: PSYCHO, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, THE BIRDS, HALLOWEEN, BRIGHAM CITY, SPIRAL, and pretty much every Universal Studios horror film from the 30's and 40's.

I though EVIL ANGEL was fun trash. And it told me that Dutcher has the courage of his convictions- watching it, I believe him when he says he's lost his faith. That wasn't a pose. He isn't trying to compromise or straddle both worlds- he chose which side he was on and went all-out. That's at least honest.

And LaBute's plays have been consistently brilliant- I didn't see any decline in their quality, morality, or insight after he left the church. His movies have all sucked since parting with Mormonism, though.

Christopher Bigelow said...

Bryan, thanks for the comment. I pretty much accept everything you say. I do admire people who make a firm decision like Dutcher has, unlike those of us treading lukewarm water...

Richard Dutcher said...


It's "Falling," not "Fallen."


D. Michael Martindale said...

Chris and Bryan's comments on the film say more about Chris and Bryan than Richard.