Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Jacques and Marcel… not necessarily the characters actual names but French names nonetheless… are prepping an ancient church in Paris for demolition when Jacques stumbles upon a hidden passageway. If Jacques knew stuff like we knew stuff he would’ve walked away and alerted his supervisor but nooooo…. He informs Marcel and the two head on down to investigate. The pair stumble upon some knickknacks which they surmise might be worth some money, but unfortunately for Jacques and Marcel they won’t be needing money where they are heading in the next three or four minutes. And thus we have the opening for yet another entry in RHI entertainments burgeoning Manhunter Series of films in ‘Rise of the Gargoyles’.

Say hello to Dr. Jack Randall (Eric Balfour) who is some kind architectural PhD in addition to writing wacky books on the existence of gargoyles. Apparently these wacky theories got him discredited and kicked out the United States but the French obviously don’t give a flying fig about how disreputable their college professors are so here he is. Jack’s good buddy Carol (Tanya Clarke) has informed Jack about this church about to be demolished and the rich gargoyle architecture it possesses so they head down one night to investigate. To get off track here I’m getting a little concerned about this movie because Jacques and Marcel just spent a good amount of time walking around in this dusty basement and now Jack and Carol are tripling that amount of time walking around in this dusty basement. I’m no filmmaker but watching people walk around in dark basements really doesn’t make for great cinema.

Anyway Jack thinks he sees a monster and runs out of the basement like a sissy. Carol runs out too, but not before she grabbed herself a little relic. In retrospect this was not a good move by Carol. We don’t want to spoil it for you but we’re not going to talk about Carol anymore. Corresponding timeline wise to Jacques and Marcel doing what they did, there’s been a rash of grisly murders in ‘Paris’ and ace cop Inspector Gilbert (Ifan Huw Dafydd) thinks Jack is his man… even though the evidence correlates to the killer having razor sharp talons and the ability to fly.

Jack, being the gargoyle expert that he is, believes he knows exactly what’s going on and when he hooks up with crazy hot tabloid reporter Nicole (Caroline Neron) and her skittish cameraman Walsh (Justin Salinger) who claims he has proof that a gargoyle is doing all this killin’. This proof is further cemented by a demented priest (Nick Mancuso) who has convinced himself that he is responsible for the gargoyle and must bring it to its timely end. People, it’s time to go back down into that dusty basement for another half hour because there’s some gargoyle destroying and eggs stomping that needs taking care of, or else everybody on the planet earth will be gargoyle food.

Like I said before, characters do an awful lot of walking around in dusty basements and running from weird sounds in this movie. In fact you see the gargoyle so infrequently in this movie that a better title would’ve been ‘A Hint of Gargoyle’. Even in the big finale when our eclectic crew of gargoyle killers are doing battle with this thing we STILL can’t see the monster because it flies around so fast. As such, instead of looking at a monster we look at our characters looking up at the sky looking FOR the monster. Of course there’s a damn good reason that our filmmakers keep our gargoyle under wraps for the majority of the film, and that’s because the monster is made out of crappy CGI so keeping her in the shadows… yes, it’s a female, considering it does lay eggs… prevents us from focusing on how poorly she integrates into her surroundings. Even when we do get to see her we spend most of that time looking at a pair of detached claws.

So we have a movie that has a monster that rarely makes an appearance and a movie in which the majority of the time is spent looking at people walk around in dark basements which makes this sound like the worst movie ever made. Surprisingly ‘Rise of the Gargoyles’ isn’t the worst movie ever made. I’m not saying it’s good, because it ain’t even close to good, but it is a somewhat watchable little movie while also being completely disposable. Though we don’t get to see the gargoyle much, it is still always there, if only in spirit, making weird sounds leaving eviscerated Parisians in its wake and glowing rocks all over the place. Yes, we only see the gargoyle do one little beheading, but it was a cool beheading and we are thankful for that. We also got to see Caroline Neron’s TV reporter character sport an incredibly tight an inappropriately low cut t-shirt to her workplace, while pondering why she never gets taken seriously as a reporter. That outstanding stuff right there. Then there was our leading man Eric Balfour. When his character wasn’t walking around dark basements he was shouting out orders and being an overall dick to his Gargoyle hunting mates. I was seriously beginning to wonder which one was the real monster here.

All things considered ‘Rise of the Gargoyles’ is pretty bad, I mean it is certainly no ‘Gargoyles’, that movie I remember as a kid back in the 70’s and CGI on its best day can’t replace Bernie Casey… but it is better than I thought it would be. Lowered expectations baby, sometimes that works for everyone.

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