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Review by Curtis Strickland (12/97)

Release: 1998, Warner Bros.
Starring: Denzel Washington, Donald Sutherland, John Goodman, Embeth Davidtz, Elias Koteas
Director: Gregory Hoblit
MPAA Rating: [R] violence, language
Genre: Crime Thriller/Horror


Detective John Hobbes (Washington) believes his problems are over when serial killer Edgar Reese (Koteas) is executed. But it turns out to be just the beginning when the murderous spirit is still roaming the earth, passing from person to person. Hobbes' investigation in the recurring murder spree leads him to a supernatural turn, prompting him to believe that a demon named Azazel is responsible.


When I first reviewed the plot for this film, I was ready to hate it. I had assumed we were in for another bad murder mystery meets the supernatural, a la Exorcist 3. But Fallen has so many good elements going for it that it's hard to discount it as your typical crime drama. Good performances from all the main cast, and a well written script that approaches the supernatural from an intelligent stance. The direction of the film is tight and focused, with some excrutiatingly tense, nail-biting scenes. The story of the demon Azazel is surpisingly well researched for a Hollywood epic. There are lots of mind games going on, and a genuine creepiness permeates the whole story.


It's one of the main points in the story that the demonic spirit gets around by jumping from person to person, and can always be identified because he is constantly singing "Time Is On My Side." While this could easily be well played in a book, it is more difficult to pull off effectively in a movie, where casting becomes an issue. Some of the people that the demon temporarily possesses don't convey a threatening enough presence, thereby watering down the monster's wickedness. However, most of these scenes are transient enough to keep from killing the demon's overall presence, and they certainly aren't enough to detract from a generally good film. The weakest moments in the movie come when it acts like a paint by numbers crime drama.

Rating: 7 out of 10 (0=Abysmal, 5=Average, 10=Excellent)

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