Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

If you think you might have some issue with watching angels from heaven using foul language, shooting people with high powered weapons, screwing, whoring, freebasing, injecting and just being overall disagreeable people, then you might want to give this import from Down Under a pass. Now if none of this doesnít cause you no nevermind, then director Shane Abess and crew have a very dark, very stylish high concept little movie about a battle that rages in purgatory between the light and the dark which may capture your imagination.

In the space between Heaven and earth is a place called Purgatory. Now weíre not going to get all into what Purgatory is, but for our purposes today recognize that the balance of light and darkness has tilted considerably to the side of darkness, and this is largely due to The Fallen. The Fallen are a group of angels who have turned their backs to the light and have completely embraced the world of the dark along with all of its sordid pleasures. Led by the extremely powerful Sammael (Dwaine Stephenson), this group of seven dark angels serves almost as an ethereal mafia in this place, running brothels, running guns, and manufacturing and dealing drugs.

Behavior such as this simply canít go on unfettered so the light dispatches its warrior angels, the Arcs, who have descended upon Purgatory to eliminate the Fallen menace with extreme prejudice, and then return home. Problem is that none of them are returning home, leaving one last Arc Angel, Gabriel (Andy Whitfield), to deal with the growing powers of Sammael and his crew. When Gabriel arrives in this new world he takes the shape of a human, a new form which upon sight keeps the other angels, even those he is closest with from recognizing him, but his power is sensed immediately. What Gabriel will learn is that something terrible of sort has befallen each of the six that has preceded him, including their greatest warrior Michael, who has also failed in his bid to end the menace of The Fallen.

Through the angel Uriel (Harry Pavlidis), who has become a worthless frightened drunk, Gabriel learns that no one in heaven is prepared for how difficult this world is, how the people they hope to save seem to embrace the dark, and other little tidbits such as if you die here you are dead forever. One by one Gabriel finds his former colleagues in various states of disarray, ranging from the completely disabled, to drugged out whore junkies, and each one he tries to save, sapping the energy that he will need in his foretold battles with the various members of The Fallen, leading up to their seemingly invincible leader. A leader he is less prepared to battle than he ever could imagine.

The word on the street is that this film cost around 150G to make. Now 150 large is next to nothing when making a movie, and then take in consideration that said movie contains fighting and shooting and Kung Fu and stylish sets and special effects, then what Abess has managed to do with the little money that he had to work with is nothing short of astonishing. However being impressed that somebody was able to make a movie on the cheap that looked good is one thing, but making a movie that is actually good, no matter what the budget, is another thing. Despite some flaws, ĎGabrielí managed to entertain me quite well.

Though the film was visually striking for the most part, it was hard to make out some of the things that were going on it because of how dark the environment was. I understand that this a movie about being surrounded by darkness and I also understand that low light is an effective way to hide some possible shortcomings, but there were times I really had a hard time making out what was happening on screen action wise. As far as the narrative goes I had some difficulty figuring some of the characters Ďmotivationsí as what they were doing at any particular time didnít make a heck of a lot a sense to me on occasion. And screwing angels? I donít know about that one either Shane. Iím thinking if Iím an angel and I REALLY want to maintain my focus and get a job done and go back home to the light, with as limited knowledge of what itís like to be human, the LAST thing Iím going to do is have sex. So much for that mission, itís time to get to screwing.

Those issues aside the film had a lot a style and a really nice, dark, gritty and unforgiving look to it, and truly conveyed a sense of the darkness and how it has consumed this world. The performances were solid all around, particularly Michael Picarilli as the incredibly vain Dark Angel Asmodius. The narrative, aside from horny angels screwing at inopportune times, was solid, paced well and had very good story to tell sandwiched between some very intense action sequences, which again are all the more impressive when you take the budget into account. The issues of free will, and the dark commentary on the state of man, were very interesting and well versed, though I question the conclusion. Not that I didnít understand it, just a question as to why the final two characters did what they did.

ĎGabrielí is a very impressive freshman outing for Shane Abess and stands quite well on its own as a fine film, and that was before I was aware of the limitations that the filmmakers faced. If you can get past heavens angels sexing it up, then by all means check this very fascinating, very dark film out.

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