Director Ivan Zuccon, who started his horror journey back in 2000, with The Darkness Beyond and has returned the field, with his religious torturous horror film, with screenwriter’s Gerardo Di Filippo first and only venture into the genre, needless to state neither one miss anything upon delivering this very conceptualize gory brutal movie.
The entire film sets itself in a holding cell, with each person in their own cell, a form of purgatory, nothing private, as the other prisoners stare at one another with lifeless eyes as if their souls await the final judgment and wrestle with their actions, though difficult to understand exactly how they found themselves in this exact place. This movie progresses with ease, into the darkest places of the human soul, the bleakest points, buried by lies and misconceptions, that viewers find themselves privy to, opening and exploring with true intensity. As for the cast, those commonly found in b-movie roles, are treated as respectable actors along with notable actors, first Domiziano Arcangeli portrays Larry killer, with cold eyes, blank stares, followed by Debbie (Debbie Rochon) with incredible beauty resonating outward, yet keeping brooding darkness covered closely, filling out the remaining prisoners, Hugo (Brian Fortune) and Liza (Tara Cardinal). Brian’s characterization resembles a former leader ragged from battle and exhausted demeanor, suffering on many levels and providing an insightful portrayal. Although one more enters, known as Princess (Tiffany Shepis), a touch of nobility unto herself, with confidence radiating outward supremely sure of who and what she was, is and always be treating the prisoners beneath her with sheer contempt. Tiffany invests herself into the role, the slightest movements to the shifting knowing glances keenly aware of horror elements projected to the audience. Debbie and Tiffany provide exquisite performances, showing that they equally have the acting chops to take on any role, and while the horror genre might be the dining course, no role in the filmmaking business lays in a forbidden terrorist to them. Truly watch Domiziano performance, for an actor with over 150 credits, and having worked with Fulci, Lenzi, Franco, and then moving the world of Hollywood, find lasting opportunities escaping the bottom of the barrel films, working tiresome in a b-movie market, honing his craft, and with role exploring it fully.
We learn the backstories on each prisoner, with strong performances, pushing this religious horror drama forward, leading inevitable conclusions, yet the Ivan reigns in the tempo, allowing the tension to build, and the film to excel with blood soaking, gory scenes for every violent junkie to have a lasting rush. In addition to the unique prisoners are the guards, Michael Segal, simply known as The Officer, an iron fisted steel booted warden with a no nonsense approach, provides absolute discipline for any infections under his watchful eyes, assisted by Spoon (Emanuele Cerman) and Dog Soldier (Giuseppe Gobbato) maintain order with everyone. Each individual brings humanity to their characters with deeper understanding assisted by Ivan careful hand to show the morality often forgotten in life’s fleeting normality and replaces with sinister brutal realities. The gothic imaginary excludes from every corner, and adds to the deeper, darkness of evil, raising the blood and gore, for the bloodthirsty fans and gore-hounds alike who understand the true horror cinema.
This film, does contain a few minor flaws, restless in the pacing of some scenes, but the understanding the religious implications lying within the holding cells, one can overlook Ivan’s lagging, as the intensity never withdraws, rather increases the pressure and fills the scenes. It appears that bits of stock footage seeps in to explain the backstories of the prisoners, and again, it might be for Ivan’s capable hands stretch the dollar extremely well to satisfy any producer and studio, similar to those that learned under Roger Corman. Sadly, a brief stampede occurs closer to the end of the movie to tie up all of the loose ends, a bit too involving for the causal viewer, presenting a swarming chaos.
One must understand that Wrath of the Crows, is more than just a religious horror film, it is after all an Italian horror film, which seems very similar to the movie Tales from the Crypt (1972), and yet excels so wonderfully past that classic film. All in all, Ivan brings forth his version of purgatory, crafts, and bleak understanding to the doorway to hell, noting everyone’s fate results in their own hell, not collectively rather individually customized to their own wretched lives, crimes, and soulless deeds.