End of Days

A review by Chris McCaleb

 

No doubt someone felt really clever somewhere in Hollywood for managing to schedule this film to be released so close to the end of 1999. It probably seemed like a really good idea for a horror film about the end of the world to play right into the well-established end of the world fears already running rampant. Think of the BOX OFFICE, man!

 

Here's the problem with that. End of Days has all the elements in place, then doesn't really do much to activate all that primal religious dread the boys in marketing so cleverly counted on. Sure, one of the characters is the Devil, but Gabriel Byrne's "The Man" character was more like just a slick lawyer with some mild evil powers. I've seen much scarier Devils.

 

And I understood that if Gabriel Byrne was allowed to have sex with Robin Tunney, then there would be hell to pay - but it never really hit home for me. (Perhaps the problem in making that the devil's primary desire is that we sympathize too much with it - and subconsciously want him to succeed!) Maybe if we'd been allowed to see a glimpse of the hell the Devil promised, or even some of his neat Devil-powers*. As it is, the infernal one seems oddly limited by his human body, much like The Headless Horseman was in Sleepy Hollow.

 

So, because it's easier to do than engaging what REALLY scares us about the devil or the end of the world, we predictably spend time in ratty subways and apartments, and the movie makes a lame attempt to make a Christ-figure out of Schwarzeneggar. (And just so we didn't miss that, they made sure to actually hang him on a church, his arms outstretched in cruciform pattern.)

 

I WAS intrigued when the movie was in the Vatican talking about prophecies read from ancient scrolls, and no, I didn't mind that their prophecy had a logic problem concerning time zones. I was enjoying myself when Robin Tunney was seeing visions (being herself such a rare vision) of strange, shattering doomsayers, and when a baby was taken away from its mother to be a part of a weird religious ceremony in the basement.

 

But it was there that the End of Days imagination begins to slack off. From there it became rather predictable and not at all that scary, although some of the stunts were neat. Also, the movie assumes that the only reason we like Arnold Schwarzeneggar is because of his action hero side. That's not true - he's an entertaining actor that can do more than that.

 

APP rates End of Days See this film on video if your first choice has already been rented.

 

*Besides the flammable pee.

 

 

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1999 Absurd Pamphlet Press