Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day of the Turkey Review:
When Heaven Comes Down

When Heaven Comes Down (2003)
Starring: Emily Albright, Dominica Wasilewska, Joe Gordon, Cory Schiffern, Anthony Sabatino, and Aaron Reisner
Director: Garry M. Lumpp
Stars: Three of Ten Stars

Several years ago, Samantha (Albright) was saved at the last minute from a religiously driven serial killer (Gordon) by a renegade FBI agent (Reisner), and the serial killer is locked up. She put her life back together, and she is now tending bar at the local watering hole and running a support group for battered women. But then the women in the support group start dying... brutally murdered in a way that makes it seem that the serial killer is back and stalking Samantha and those around her yet again.

"When Heaven Comes Down" is a clumsily made slasher flick that includes a few elements that could have helped it rise above the pack of low-budget, shot-on-video, direct-to-DVD films that anyone with a camera, friends, and a few dollars to burn seemed to be making 5-10 years ago. Given that low-budget horror film stalwart Robert D'Zar helped produce the film (and is in a single, unimportant scene), it's not surprising that it should have SOMETHING to distingush it. But that little bit of something is not nearly enough to make the movie worth watching.

The fact that a support group for battered is the focus of the murderer's activities was an inspired idea. You have the horror of women who are now being victimized all over again, and you have a ready pool of possible maniac suspects constantly lurking nearby in the form of the abusive ex-husbands and boyfriends and fathers. It's a great idea, but it requires some development of the characters in the support group... and I've seen slasher films where Drunk Girl #3 got more character development than any of the victims here. The idea also requires some skill on the part of the actors portraying these ladies... but skill and talent for acting is in short supply in almost every cast-member in the flick. Emily Albright was properly cast as the lead as she can at least deliver her lines with some degree of intensity, but everyone else is either lame or too far over-the-top in their performances.

Perhaps the most damning thing about the cast in this film is that Robert D'Zar is more memorable than all of them put together in a tiny, pointless bit-part.

I suppose if you're a fairly green viewer of horror films, you might get some enjoyment at trying to guess who the killer is while watching. It can't be original maniac as he's locked up tight in a facility for the criminally insane. Is it the now-retired, embittered FBI agent? Is it one of the abusive boyfriends? Is it Samantha's unbelievably understanding and supportive boyfriend? Or is it Samantha herself, completely cracked and on a rampage with a split personality? The guessing game can only carry you so far, because even if this is the first slasher film you've seen, about halfway through the movie, you will realize that there's a simple way to stop this killer: If Samantha actually got interviewed by the police, as she would be in real life, the killer's identity would be immediately known to them. (In fact, if Garry Lumpp had spent a little more time developing the script he wrote, he would have realized this plot problem and been able to fix it. As it is, it's a back hole of suckiness that pulls his already weak movie dangerously close to belonging on this blog instead of here.

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