Starring Angela Featherstone, Daniel Markel, Nicholas Worth, Charlotte Stewart, Mike Genovese, Michael C. Mahon, Milton James, Constantin Draganescu, Cristina Stoica, Kehli O’Byrne
Directed by Linda Hassani
Expectations: I don’t know. Hopeful.
On the general scale:
On the B-movie scale:
Dark Angel: The Ascent tells the classic tale of a sheltered adolescent yearning to break free from their parent’s grasp and explore the world at large. The big difference between this film and all the others that share this storyline is that Veronica (Angela Featherstone) is a denizen of Hell. There have been tons of movies with demons breaking loose from Hell to wreak havoc on Earth, but have any of them had to deal with overly protective parents? But despite how this all sounds, Dark Angel: The Ascent is played fairly straight, and where it really sets itself apart is how it portrays the relationship between God and the citizens of Hell.
Traditionally we understand that God is up in Heaven doing his godly thing, while Satan rules below, torturing souls to his heart’s content. But the entirely of Dark Angel: The Ascent is built upon the premise that everyone in Hell is actually doing the job assigned to them by God; instead of two extremes on opposite sides of a war for souls, they are needed parts of a cohesive whole. This creates moments that are unique and incredibly interesting, such as Veronica’s demon family praying to God as any devoutly religious family would before a meal. I expect a lot of things from Full Moon films, but smart, unique takes on Christian mythology is not one of them! Even if the rest of the movie was awful, this alone would highlight Dark Angel: The Ascent as an interesting Full Moon film.
But lo, my fellow parishioners of the B-Movie church, the rest of Dark Angel: The Ascent isn’t awful! It’s actually pretty good! Veronica makes her way to our world, which in the movie is supposed to be a big US city, but is clearly Full Moon’s favorite ’90s destination: Romania. It is here in Ameri-Romania that the premise of Hell’s Angels serving the Lord bears fruit, as Veronica becomes a crusader for justice, killing those that do evil before her. She even sets her sights on a corrupt politician, ala The Dead Zone! These escapades are a bit bloodier than is usual for a Full Moon film, fitting the dark tone of the film well, and only rarely venturing into camp territory. I enjoyed the over-the-top moments, such as when Veronica rips a man’s spine out and offers it up as a token of remembrance to the man’s would-be rape victim, but I’m sure others would roll their eyes.
Full Moon’s not known for their production design, as their budgets rarely allowed for the creation of large-scale sets meant to transport the viewer to another land. Which is why I have to single out the work done to create the version of Hell that opens the film. It’s nothing special when compared to big-budget stuff, but within the realm of Full Moon films it looks like they really tried their best to create a fiery, tortuous version of Satan’s domain. It’s amazing what a few fiery braziers lighting up incredible Romanian ruins can do to create an evil, ominous atmosphere! The dudes with cages over their heads didn’t hurt either!
And that’s kinda all I got. If you dig Full Moon’s films, Dark Angel: The Ascent is definitely one to check out. In addition to introducing a great premise to the cliched God v. Satan struggle, it’s also a bit of a darkly erotic love story, a fish-out-of-water comedy (or maybe I wasn’t supposed to belly laugh when Veronica makes skin-tight leather clothes out of a couch), and a slasher movie where you root for the killer. A love of B-Movies is definitely required, but Dark Angel: The Ascent is of a slightly higher quality than many of Full Moon’s other films.
Next time I get around to a Full Moon movie, I’ll be going with the Full Moon-related 1988 film Grotesque! See ya then!