Director – Greg A Sager
Starring- Ry Barrett, Camille Hollett- French, Jason Martorino
UK DVD release from High Fliers Films – June 29th 2015
The sins of the past come back to haunt a group of strangers in Greg A Sager’s KINGDOM COME, when they all wake up in an abandoned building with no idea of how they got there and why. An intriguing concept to start off with, the film grips straight away with its initial idea and build up but towards the end of the film and in its final climatic pay off, it soon starts to lose the promise it began with.
The whole concept of people being trapped in a derelict reminds much of SAW series, but rather than escalate into a torture porn copy, KINGDOM COME uses its idea to focus on the characters trapped in the building for a more specific reason. Once the characters have been established we soon realise that the majority of them fall under an already established stereotype. We get an angry black man, a racist, an ex-junkie, a child molester, and the two central characters that seem to be wholly decent for the majority of the picture (played by Barrett and Hollett-French). Those these characters have past discrepancies that soon become the focus of why they are there.
Once they soon figure out that there past sins, such as drug addiction, murder and paedophilia are the reason they are there and being punished in some way, it soon dawns on them that there are not alone and are being tested by a Satanic like figure, Daniel Levine, played with some scenery chewing relish by Jason Martorino, who is accompanied by some demonic creatures who carry out his bidding, whenever he puts the strangers to the test on whether they can forgive and forget or carry out vengeance on those who’ve caused them harm.
As mentioned at the start of the review the film begins strongly, despite the stereotyped characters there’s a great air of menace and setting when the characters awaken to find where they are. The abandoned building is also a great setting, looking like a dark dingy setting familiar from the SAW films (as mentioned before) or even the first SILENT HILL film, and the initial use of one set works, as in any horror film having your characters subjected to the confines of single area makes it a more threatening and claustrophobic experience especially when the initial threats start to appear. Visually this works as well, and Sager and his cinematographer, Gary Elmer do a fine job in capturing the gloomy dark aspect of the film, and avoid painting it with a sepia toned grey wash that can be the standard in many horror flicks of recent memory.
Mention should also go to the decent creature design of Levine’s demonic helpers, that look pretty impressive, and look like horrific characters of the devils twisted disfigured helpers. All this is hampered by some poor dialogue that is wooden in delivery and even though it’s not noticeable at the start, it soon becomes more apparent as it goes along, with only Martorino coming off as entertaining in his camp over the top delivery but even then I would have liked this to have gone further with a possible Tod Slaughter-esque clasping hands and laughing manically for “souls” though that might just be me and maybe a bit too niche.
Though the aspect of the devil testing these souls, is a great device and plays into horror’s eternal use of the battle between god and Lucifer, I won’t be surprised if some people find that the element of one of the character’s being subjected to this damnation, due to having an abortion as a bit troubling. Yes even myself felt this was erring on the side of right wing Christianity, pro-life brigade thinking, though I don’t think it’s the film makers intentions (hopefully not), if anything it might be something that will get people angry possibly, maybe even placed in there deliberately.
Though as a horror fan if a film does use the aspect of some slight pro-Christian views, in terms of the genre I don’t mind it in some respects as God and Satan are always great foes in using humans in there never ending battle for their souls, and this has and always will be a genre staple. This doesn’t make me a Christian nor does this make me anti-abortion (far far from it I’m pro-choice), but part of me admires the aspect of filmmakers bringing in a almost pro-Christian message into genre films, especially in an age where Christianity (quite rightly) has lost some of its prevalent stronghold over society.
If you want a better example of an almost, but not quite, pro-Christian horror film check out SEANCE: THE SUMMONING, from 2011, a film that starts off with dumb teens conjuring up the devil and then turns into a bat shit crazy and silly pro-Christian style horror flick. Better get back to the film, and yes the ending of KINGDOM COME, without giving it away is silly, and at times a bit loosely put together in the terms of what has gone on before, and will make some viewers feel cheated, especially with the syrupy sentiment that concludes it, but of course there always a final punch line to add a nice if almost generic final genre-style twist.
Admittedly while being pretty flawed throughout, and suffering from some wooden acting, stereotyped characters, and a slightly pro-Christian, possible/not possible pro-choice sentiment, that could possibly have the tendency to annoy or make some irate, there is still something to admire in KINGDOM COME as it does have a strong enough first half, a nice visual touch, a decent and hammy villain and some interesting take on the themes of forgiveness and revenge. It’s a shame that the film does lose its way and drags in the second part to its slightly silly conclusion.
Kingdom Come is released in the UK on June 29th and is available to pre-order from Amazon UK NOW – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kingdom-Come-DVD-Ry-Barrett/dp/B00TZZZB4G/