Plot: What’s it about?
Lucy Stanton (Rachael Leigh Cook) is a beautiful young woman who seeks to become a model, but she has a lot on her mind. She is haunted by the suicide of her mother, which was sudden and remains unexplained. Lucy has no idea why her mother would take her own life, nor does her father Hugh (Christopher McDonald), who also seeks answers. But Lucy wants to continue her modeling career, so she wishes to venture to Italy to enroll in a special program. Her father is hesitant about letting her go by herself, but when some research work is offered in the area, he decides to go with her. At the same time, a man known as Father Simeon (Maximilian Schell) is quite pleased, as he has arranged the entire situation. He saw Lucy when he was visiting in Boston and right then, he knew he had found the last piece to his puzzle. Simeon had already killed seventeen young women and if he can get Lucy, then he can complete the ritual. He believes that once he has the eighteen host bodies, Satan will return to this world and to Simeon & his fellow cult members, that would be excellent news indeed. As time passes, Hugh starts to make some connections between his dead wife’s research work and Simeon’s monastery, but can he uncover the truth in time to save Lucy, or will the cult’s evil plot unfold as planned?
In this film, old fashion devil worship meets modern day technology, a kind of Love Connection for Satanists, if you will. This movie was made with a solid budget, but was shelved for some time after its production studio closed its doors. After its slated theatrical debut was scrapped, The Eighteenth Angel was abandon until its eventual direct to video release. While I don’t think this movie would have cashed in at the box office, I do think it could have made some profits and if nothing else, its a cut above the usual straight to video supernatural thrillers out there. As this was written by David Seltzer (The Omen, Prophecy), you might have raised expectations, which wouldn’t be wise, as The Eighteenth Angel is just a basic, simple supernatural thriller. The storyline is solid, but too much is given to the audience too soon, which lessens the suspense and atmosphere later in the picture. I think if more time were taken to unfold the story, the movie could have been much better, if just in terms of added suspense. The cast here is good, with such names as Rachael Leigh Cook, Christopher McDonald, Wendy Crewson, Stanley Tucci, and Maximilian Schell, all of whom turn in passable efforts. But in the end, the movie is average at best and Columbia’s disc is barebones, so I think a rental should suffice in most cases.
This movie might not be that memorable, but as always, Rachael Leigh Cook leaves a lasting impression. No, this is not even close to being her finest performance, but she looks awesome and in this case, that helps the film’s cause a lot. I had just watched her in the low rent thriller Tangled, so while her effort here wasn’t all that dynamic, it was better than her work in that wafer thin motion picture. This movie was made before she found her big break, which allows a rare look into a star before she became so famous. She lacks the kind of total charm and refinement she’d show later, but she brings good presence and of course, she looks excellent. I was kind of surprised by how youthful she is here, as she has a lot of innocence and youth in her looks, which fits her role quite well, to be sure. Even so, don’t expect a dynamic performance here, as Cook is more than solid, but not much beyond that. Other films with Cook include She’s All That, Texas Rangers, Josie and the Pussycats, AntiTrust, and The Hi-Line. The cast also includes Christopher McDonald (Happy Gilmore, Requiem for a Dream), Wendy Crewson (What Lies Beneath, The Santa Clause), and Maximilian Schell (The Black Hole, Deep Impact).
Video: How does it look?
The Eighteenth Angel is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. This effort comes off as a mixed bag, as some scenes look excellent, while others look soft and unimpressive. When the image looks great however, it looks awesome and so when the softer scenes come, its more than a slight let down. The soft sequences are more frequent, but they’re not all that bad, its just they don’t measure up to the scenes that look great. There is some grain present, but not enough to be concerned about, while only a few scenes have excessive debris evident. I found black levels to be a little less than refined, although colors were solid and within the film’s visual scheme, the hues look just fine. This is an inconsistent treatment, but when looked at as a whole, this is still a more than decent presentation.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio is much better than the video, as atmosphere is tense and well crafted, thanks to some terrific use of the surrounds. A lot of surround presence is found here, as eerie scenes are enhanced, bass is deep, and the musical score thunders, this is one of the better non 5.1 soundtracks I’ve heard of late. The sound effects have good impact, whether powerful or subtle in scope, which adds a lot to the experience. You can’t expect the same kind of depth as a 5.1 option, but this track kicks and really gets the most out of the material. The dialogue is clean and smooth also, so no loss of vocals needs to be mentioned. This disc also includes subtitles in English and French, in case you might need those.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes no bonus materials.