Dark Angel: The Ascent
dark angel: the ascent | demon | demons | angel | angels | religion | linda hassani | matthew bright | angela featherstone | daniel markel | mike genovese | fantasy | romance | romania | united states | constantin draganescu | cristina stoica | valentin teodesiu
Film: Dark Angel: The Ascent
Director: Linda Hassani
Writer: Matthew Bright
Starring: Angela Featherstone, Daniel Markel and Mike Genovese
This is a movie I’ll be honest, I had never heard of until working through that Horror Movie Encyclopedia. It popped up and I saw that I could stream it free through Pluto TV. I wasn’t completely sure what I was getting into, but did have an idea when I saw this was a Full Moon film. It came out during their heyday of the early to mid-1990s, straight to video. The synopsis here is a woman destined for freedom manages to escape Hell. When she arrives from the sewers of Earth, she decides to punish sinners, but the last thing she expected to find was love.
We actually start this movie in hell. I think that they do a solid job of introducing us to the different torments that people are being faced with and I’ll be honest, there was a scene during this sequence where people’s heads are moving fast back and forth that I’ve seen before. I’m assuming it was through a trailer or it was used in other movies. We then get to meet Veronica (Angela Featherstone). She is a demon and I thought it was interesting that her last name is Iscariot.
Veronica has some lofty visions for life and they go against the teachings. Mary (Cristina Stoica) tries to get her to stop and it upsets her father Hellikin (Nicholas Worth). He scolds her along with a professor who is played by Valentin Teodesiu. Hellkin gets so bothered by her that he strikes Veronica. Her mother of Theresa (Charlotte Stewart) tries to comfort her, but Veronica flees. Mary showed her the unguarded path to the surface and that is where Veronica goes.
She emerges from the sewers to a city. Her demonic appearance is hidden and with her is her dog of Hellraiser (Heros). This woman is drawing attention as she is completely nude. She finds some clothes on the ground and goes about exploring this strange new world.
We then get to meet Dr. Max Barris (Daniel Markel). He’s working in the emergency room and gets upset when an elderly patient comes in. There were attacked by a criminal. She did shoot him in the process. This upsets him so he goes outside on a balcony. He notices Veronica and watches as she is hit by a car due to walking in the road. She is brought in where he cares for her.
Being that she is from hell, she heals much faster. The two of them hit it off and she uses her power to convince him to let her stay at his place. While he sleeps, she watches television and sees the evils of this city. It upsets her that Mayor Wharton (Milton James) is a criminal with no remorse. She relays to Max when he gets up about she cannot believe how evil this world is.
With him off to work, Veronica goes out into the night. She has interesting interaction with 2 nuns, Monica Ghiuta and Corina Danila, which ends with Veronica being burned by a cross. She flees to a cemetery where two thugs are attacking a woman. Veronica has seen enough and with Hellraiser, she changes back into her true form to get justice. She decides she will clean up this city of its sinners in the only way that she knows how. The problem is that she leaves evidence behind that lead two detectives, Harper (Mike Genovese) and Greenberg (Michael C. Mahon), to Max.
That is where I’m going to leave my recap of the movie. I’ll be honest, I’m shocked that it went that long, but there isn’t really a lot to the story. That is actually an issue I have with the movie. My recap there is almost to the halfway point or so before the story really starts to form itself. I don’t normally like to start with a negative, but I had to here.
What I do like though is the lore that is in the movie. We start in hell and those are pretty solid sequences. The movie doesn’t go too far there, but a lot of that is budgetary I’m sure. This is right before CGI really taking off so they didn’t have that there. Something else interesting here is that despite having fallen from heaven due to Satan and his vanity, it seems like all of these demons are religious. There is talk of them seeming to still worshiping God and they’re lot is to punish the sinners who are damned there in his name. That worked for me to be honest. I also like that Veronica’s last name is Iscariot which is the last name of Judas who betrayed Jesus. The movie does have a misstep here to not go a bit farther with some of it as there is some rich lore that could be expanded on.
We also don’t have the most original concept here with Veronica being an avenging angel of sorts. Regardless, I do like the idea. She does have an odd mirror to Jesus with this as well as with Satan. She is going against the teachings of her people as she doesn’t agree with them, something that both of them did to an extent. She is killing sinners on Earth, which is a perverted Jesus aspect. Something else here is that there is an angel that is watching over her and if she continues down this path, she would ascend farther from Earth to heaven. This almost seems like she could kill her way into heaven and making this Old Testament like the archangel Gabriel.
The last thing I want to delve into is the social commentary that is relevant today. First there is the corruption of a government official in Mayor Wharton. This isn’t new here or even for today, but I like that he is the biggest prize for Veronica. We also have the two detectives that are looking into Veronica’s murders. They are doing their job. Low key they agree with Veronica, but they can’t allow vigilante justice. We get an interesting interaction between these three and then another one that shakes Detective Harper to his core.
Despite some good aspects to this story, I feel that this movie doesn’t have much in the way of direction or tension. It runs 81 minutes, pretty standard for Full Moon. Where my issue though is that I never feel Veronica is in peril. She is too powerful here and nothing can stop her. For a movie like this, we need to have a villain that can beat her and we don’t get it. Without the tension, the movie really just moves through some set pieces and had trouble holding my interest.
The acting though wasn’t that bad. Featherstone is solid as our lead here. She is wooden, but I think that actually works in the movie’s favor. She is a demon who doesn’t understand our social norms making her a fish out of water. We also get to see her nude a couple of times, which I won’t complain about. Markel is fine as her love interest. Genovese is good in his minor role along with Mahon to play off him. I think James is solid as Mayor Wharton. I also like the cameos by Worth, Stewart and Heros. The acting is fine, but no one really stands out.
Then the last thing I want to go into would be the effects. As I said, this is still early Full Moon so we have practical stuff for the most part. I think the demon look works. I like the black, long nails they give Veronica and how she uses them. We get a bit of blood which looks good. There is a bit of early CGI that was fine. I had no issues there. The cinematography also works for what was needed as well.
In conclusion here, I think there is some good lore and back-story that this movie uses, but it really did waste it. There isn’t enough tension or direction for this movie so it kind of meanders from set piece to set piece which didn’t hold my interest. The acting is fine along with the effects. The soundtrack also works for what was needed, but also didn’t necessarily stand out. I just feel if they could have found a way to limit Veronica’s power or give a villain to stand up to her, it would have worked better for me. So then overall I’d say this is an average movie. There are good and bad aspects to me so I’m coming in right in the middle.
My Rating: 5 out of 10