Back when I was in film class, my team was supposedly investigating the "film-noir genre." So, to watch the movies that specifically contained that genre I recurred to IMDB. Two surprises, first one, I didn't know shit what was the genre about but until two days later when I read the definition of it. Second one, this movie; It was so fucking emotionally creepy that it had me on my feet during most of the time. After it finished, my thoughts were: WOW. It was a great, but disturbing film. Though kind of marred in the end, it still had the ability to shock me beyond belief, and oh shit, how I felt later. In other words, before Se7en and The Sixth Sense, there was this film.Back in the 50's, Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke fresh off his success in Barfly) is a down-on-his-luck private eye who one day gets a contact from one of his friends to help a client. So Angel goes on to meet the client, whose name's Louis Cyphre (Robert De Niro), and wants Angel to find a man, a singer, Johnny Favorite, who once had signed a contract and then disappeared without paying back. The last place where he was at the hospital, recovering from a trauma he suffered from WWII, and then he checked out and vanished without a trace. Harry accepts the assignment purely for the money that Cyphre gives him, and goes to investigate. His leads eventually lead him to various witnesses who are adamant in not talking, but eventually get mysteriously murdered in brutal ways. Despite being a prime suspect in each of those murders, Angel pushes on, largely due to Cyphre's paying, and his leads eventually get him to New Orleans, supposedly because Johnny had a daughter there called Epiphany (Lisa Bonet). But as more and more he investigates, the more and more things reflect back to him, more so Angel's piecing of the puzzle and his final solving of the case will not be without shocking consequences.
"An Emotionally Draining Horror/Film-Noir"
The movie's combination of horror and film-noir settings make it excellent for its dramatic effect.
Horror: because of the many creepy and scary scenes that it reveals along, which trace to the average horror films.
Film-noir: because it touches the many styles of this genre which dates back to the 50's with tales about Hard Boiled Detectives (in this case Angel) and Pulp Fiction novels. The settings too also resemble this genre, with the dark moods and shots in the dark with dim lights, rainy days, and tilted camera shots. All of these factors define the typical atmosphere of depression, which is a film-noir trademark. Yet all of this fits in the movie very well since film-noir is an examination of the dark side of humanity and pure evil. With all of these elements, including horror, put on place, the film is capable of scaring you shitless. Some scenes are controversial, like the love scene between Rourke and Bonet (you find out why), but in the end it makes perfect sense, and of course, you get the chilling moment in the end.
The performances were great, especially from Mickey Rourke, who gives his last great performance before bottoming out with the shit that would haunt him later on. Robert De Niro is exceptional, and scary, not only because of the long fingers, long hair and black suits, but because his screen prescence is so powerful it captivates you from the very beginning. Lisa Bonet was also good, apart from the sex scene, which is typical in many Rourke films; she performed well up to the standards that I hoped. But the driving mind behind this movie, and the rest of the credit goes to Alan Parker (Midnight Express, Mississippi Burning), who wrote directed and produced this film. Without his creativity and talent, this film would've never been what it is.In the end, I recommend this film to everyone who's up to being scared. Probably it has better effect after you've watched The Sixth Sense, Seven, 8mm, and finally this one in a row. But in my part, this film really scares and emotionally drains you, I don't know about you guys. 4.5–5
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=2269&reviewer=235
originally posted: 04/25/01 08:57:53