By Steve Anderson"
Brand new on the scene within the last couple years, recent distributor Asylum Home Entertainment has been putting out a lot of movies lately. Some of them have been enough to put viewers away in an asylum, too...really poorly done enterprises.
Yet some, some are a shining beacon of the true power of direct to video releases. Some are magnificent showpieces.
Angel's Crest is one of the latter. This is one we can point to and say, "See? SEE? Not ALL direct to video movies are utter wastes of plastic!"
So anyway, what we've got here is the story of two guys, Teddy and Richard, on their morning commute to work. Which is weird, because for some reason, it's Memorial Day. How do we know?
The radio announcers tell us so.
And there's a big marching band going by in the opening shot.
Where do these guys work that's got them going in on freaking MEMORIAL DAY??
Teddy and Richard have decided to shake up their routine a bit. In fact, they've
decided that they need a change of scenery. They also could stand to drop a couple pounds, especially Teddy, who's been hitting the cinnamon buns pretty hard lately, so they're going to take a walk through the woods. Nice and responsible, no?
Of course, this is a horror movie, and in a horror movie, no socially responsible
and environmentally benefical deed goes unpunished. Something's waiting for our two work buddies out in the woods...
Just what, you ask?
Well, let's just say there's a HUGE FREAKING SURPRISE to Angels' Crest involving our dear old cinnamon bun muncher Teddy. And the surprises start at the sixteen minute mark. Something goes seriously wrong out in the woods, and I really can't tell you anything more about the plot than this. Seriously. If I tell you about plot beyond
the sixteen minute mark, I will completely DESTROY the movie for you.
And I couldn't live with myself if I did that.
Sometimes, this movie can be just really, really funny. Check out the look on
Richard's face as he discovers pine cones around the eleven minute mark. But then, it just shifts gears from being a convivial, lively presentation of two buddies from work to being some kind of twisted horror show. The shift is so seamless, it's amazing.
Maybe it's just good writing. Maybe it's an intentional commentary on the nature of society--you know...nice, normal and happy one minute, next minute, Mr. Toad's Wild and Freaky Horrorshow Ride. But it's unbelievable.
Angels' Crest must be seen to be believed, and watched carefully to be appreciated. It packs layers of nuance and subtlety so deep that I've never seen the like. This movie is a Russian nesting doll, with plot quirks packed inside plot quirks four layers deep.
The truly unbelievably astonishingly amazing part about Angels' Crest is that it's a two man show. That's right. The whole movie is JUST TEDDY AND RICHARD. That's it!
This is an incredible feat of writing. The fact that they could warp your mind
like this on the strength of just two characters speaks volumes for the quality of
the writing AND the quality of the acting. Christopher Bauer as Teddy is an
excellent picture of the incredible focus of lunacy, and Currie Graham as Richard is magnificently bewildered throughout. Both of them are excellent, no matter if they're nonchalantly telling each other stories or engaged in much more vicious behavior.
And normally, the problem with a movie like this is that it gets too caught up in
its own subtlety that it seems almost surprised to have reached its own end. This surprise results in an ending of poor quality. Not so with Angels' Crest-- the ending is as intense as you could ask for.
The extra features, however, are a little on the sparse side. Spanish subtitles, director's commentary, audio options and trailers of "Angels' Crest," "Murder By Design," and "The Code Conspiracy" are all we get here.
All in all, Angels' Crest is an amazing example of the power of good script writing.
Kudos to Grant Holly and J. Michael Couto for showing the direct to video community where their capability TRULY lies...not in blockbuster special effects, but in a powerful script.