Wednesday, December 29, 2010

'Sabbath' is full of good concepts but still fails

While straightening up my office, I found some movies I'd misfiled. For who-knows-what-reason, I'd put about half a dozen DVDs in my "Watched" drawer when I had done nothing of the sort!

I'll be trying to get to those movies as soon as possible, but by way of setting the stage for one of those upcoming reviews, here's an Oldie But a Goodie that originally appeared at

Sabbath (2008)
Starring: Ashley Gallo, Bobby Williams, David Crawford, Rob Holmes, Cory Wisberger, and Cheyenne Stewart
Director: William Victor Schotten
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

Geller (Gallo), Mack, (Williams), and a trio of oddball misfits (Crawford, Holmes, and Wisberger) struggle to join forces and stay alive as the dead rise from their graves. They are, literally, the last five living beings on Earth, as it is Judgement Day and angelic beings and shadowy demons are prowling around them, waiting and watching for one final event to occur.

"Sabbath" is a low-budget zombie picture that shows every indication of being made with dedication and heart. The best part is that there was a fair degree of talent at work in the cinematography department. It even has a number of appealing aspects as far as the story goes. Unfortunately, it's simply not very good. It is a tie between this film and "Revolt of the Zombies" for the Dullest Zombie Movie I've Ever Seen Award.

Basically, the film suffers from all the usual flaws that are often found in horror movies at this level. Establishing shots go on forever. Lots of scenes of characters running, walking, or standing in forests with nothing else really going on. Lame fight scenes that might have been less lame if a) the director had attempted less of them, and b) more rehearsal time had gone into staging them--the climactic battle in the churchyard wold have been so much better if it had been concentrated into about half or one-third of the time it takes in the existing film. The actors mostly seem lethargic, as if they are at a rehearsal instead of actually making the movie. Almost every scene continues well past the point where it should have ended. There's also the sloppiness and shortcuts taken where just a little extra effort or investment would have improved things immensely--like giving the Angel of Death a scythe that looked like it might actually cut something, and dressing the demons in black tights instead of black jeans and sneakers.

In fact, "Sabbath" would have been far less boring if the director had recognized that he was stretching about 45 minutes of movie to nearly twice that length. It also would have been less boring if the script had seen a couple more revisions and if it had ended up with a little more sound logic to underpin the fact that the five main characters in the film aren't the
final five living beings on Earth by accident.

Late in the film (VERY late) we learn that all five characters had some part to play in the accidental death of Geller's daughter. The Angel of Death and some other angel (the Angel of Mercy? Archangel Michael? It's never named, but it's played by Cheyenne Stewart) are waiting to judge let just one of them into Heaven as the last soul before the gates close forever. However, the timing of the little girl's death as given in the film makes no sense, as she supposedly died two full weeks prior to the events of the film. We are to believe that on the ENTIRE planet Earth, no other events of that nature occurred for two weeks? The film would have been far stronger if the death of the little girl had occurred the day before the Judgement Day instead of weeks prior, as the notion of these five people needing to be judged "after the fact" would have made more sense.

I really wish I could like this movie more, because it has some aspects to it I really enjoyed.

I liked mystery of the grim reaper, the angel, and the evil spirits (or demons, whatever they were) creeping about or even assisting the film's main characters unseen by them; that's something I've never seen in a zombie picture before. One of the film's best moments happens when the Grim Reaper smites a zombie just as it was about to attack Bobby Williams, and he is then left trying to figure out why the zombie just keeled over. I also liked the way the film overtly got into the the mystical Judgement Day aspects of mass-zombie attacks instead of presenting it as one character's superstition and then dismissing it with a scientific explanation. I also liked the very end of the movie, even if I 'm a bit unsure of what exactly the director was trying to convey.

The best thing I can say about "Sabbath" is that it kept me watching. The bit with the angels, demons, and a mystical Judgement Day unfolding around the characters gave this zombie flick an unusual dimension. In fact, that whole aspect of the film may make it worth checking out for experienced watchers of the zombie genre.

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