Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Movie Review: 666: The Beast

  666: The Beast is a film which focuses on the Anti-Christ and the 2nd coming of the Christian Messiah.  These kinds of flics either go one way or the other; very good or very bad.  The Omen franchise, for example, was very good, especially the first two films.  Lost Souls was a decent film, but while billed as a horror film was more in the suspense genre.  This, I think, is the risk that Anti-Christ films take; they do well if they approach the topic from one or two directions only.  If they try to deal with the mythology, make the film a mystery, have suspense, and have gore, something is generally lost in the translation.  The film was produced by The Asylum, a low-budget film company known not only for direct-to-dvd horror films but also for quickly generating low-end versions of titles being produced by the big-budget companies.  666: The Beast is a sequel to 666: The Child; the baby being born in the original is now grown up and guided toward fulfilling his destiny by the forces around him.  That appears to be the two films only connection, and one can watch this film without seeing 666: The Child and not be missing anything.

 The film opens in a church in some foreign land where a monk has discovered the alignment of stars indicating the rise of the Anti-Christ and is assaulted by a demonic spirit (who also likes to blow out candles).  The film then turns to Donald and his very pregnant wife.  Donald is concerned about a promotion at work, and though he believes he deserves it he doesn't think he has the seniority to get the position. 

 During the interview for the position, the Vice President first tells him that he is not getting the job, then goads Donald into expressing his anger over being denied the position.  The VP wants Donald to be passionate, and instead offers him a position as his Junior VP, a position superior to the one he was being denied.  The company they work for, "Global Corp", is maneuvering to purchase Israel's diamond supply, and Donald is in charge of handling things state-side while the VP negotiates in Israel.  Donald is given a new office and a "sexy" (she's a butter-face) secretary who is immediately smitten with.  They celebrate into the night.

 Donald's wife's twin sister, working at the morgue of a local hospital, is strangled to death by a corpse and then tacked to the wall of the morgue in the same manner as Jesus was hung on the cross.  A hexagram is drawn in her blood on the floor at her feet.  Detectives on the scene are at a loss to understand what they are seeing, but a priest who has been having visions about the coming of the Anti-Christ is on scene to explain what is going on.  The hexagram is mistaken for the Star of David (and the film accurately, if politically incorrectly, portrays the meaning of this occult symbol), which the priest describes as a symbol of both God and the Devil, as well as the union of male and female.  It is a Satanic symbol in that it has 6 points and 6 lines forming 6 triangles.  The victim has a cross-shaped birth-mark on her neck. indicating that she was marked to be a victim of the infernal conspiracy.

 Donald's wife is informed of her sister's death, but cannot reach Donald.  When Donald returns home from celebrating, he still has the lip-stick mark from his new secretary's kiss on his neck.  The missus is not pleased.  Donald begins having erotic dreams about his secretary, while his wife had vision of demons, seeing normal people's faces becoming demonic where-ever she goes.  The priest from the crime scene contacts her, but she doesn't believe him.

 The contract of the diamond deal goes missing, and Donald tells his VP that he will find it.  He pours through the documents related to the deal and forges a new copy.  Again, his VP and secretary celebrate his success, and the VP leaves the office after much drink.  Donald and his secretary have sex in the meeting room.  Donald's rival, Tom, discovers Donald asleep on the meeting room table.  He witnessed Donald;s romp with the secretary, and demands that Donald resign or Tom will tell his wife.  Donald, in the mildest rage every portrayed on film, begins choking the life out of Tom, and then throws him down a flight of steps to his death. 

 His VP appears out of nowhere, applauding the murder.  At first Donald tries to make excuses for the act, but when it becomes clear that the VP approves, he calms down.  The VP and the secretary explain the real nature of things; Donald is the Anti-Christ, an infernal army awaits his command, the diamond deal with Israel puts Israel's economy under the control of Pakistan.  Donald is to lead a new world order.

 Donald is taken to witness a human sacrifice.  He is taken to an abandoned industrial park where he watches three women, two cultists and the bound sacrifice, erotically play with one another.  The actress portraying the sacrifice victim has 3 nipples, something that the film-makers did not account for nor did they try to hide.  It is probably the most interesting aspect of the film.  The sacrifice willing dies, and a bottle of her blood is given to Donald, who drinks it.  The VP introduces him to his "army" (composed of 3-5 hooded figures kept at the edge of the shot while crowd noise is played in the background), and then explains that with Donald's arrival, he must die to get out of Donald's way.  Donald stabs his with a sacrificial dagger, then his secretary tells him that he must now kill the coming Christ-Child; his wife's unborn son.

 Donald's wife, seeing demon faces on nearly everyone she looks at, including the priest, heads for the shelter of her home where Donald and what appears to be her sister awaits.  Donald goes to strangle his wife, who chokes out the she loves him, which makes him hesitate (apparently, Donald has a human side and his Satanic side is some kind of possessing spirit).  The priest intervenes, and takes Donald's wife to a church to give birth to the Messiah.  There, 7 priests have gathered to protect the mother of God, but one of the priests turns out to be a Judas, and Donald shows up with an exuberant use of strobe-light lightning effects.  I don't think I need to give away the ending... there are no real surprises here.

 I have some problems with this film that go beyond the shoddy acting, writing, and production over all.  They wrote the film in five days, gathered the cast in 7 days, and shot the film in 9 days for around $75,000... so what should I expect?  Actually, with all that taken into consideration, it is surprising that you can tell that some of the people involved actually tried to make it a good picture.  My first problem is with the way Donald converts to the Anti-Christ.  He is a nice guy who is manipulated into it in a hack-kneed manner.  Who goes from getting angry, to forging contracts, to cheating on his wife, to murder... not exactly a smooth transition? 

 I also do not dig the idea of the Anti-Christ somehow being split about his state-of-being.  Damien in The Omen: II is at first troubled by his discovery that he is the Anti-Christ, but learns to accept and even revel in his fated role.  Lost Souls goes the other way, the Anti-Christ is human until the instant he is taken over by the spirit of Satan.  Maybe if corrupting the person who is the Anti-Christ being the sole focus of the film might have been interesting, but not as an aside to the over-all plot.

 Donald takes command of what is supposed to be an army of fanatic followers.  He shows up at the church alone. 

 The "sexy" secretary was not the hottest nude chick to do a scene in this film.  At least the temptress in The Devil's Advocate was hot.  Her acting was not good enough for me to believe that she was the most talented of all the topless women available. 

 Donald, confused about his potential role as leader of the new world order, witnesses a sacrifice and drink the sacrificial blood from a bottle without any hesitation.  Rrrriiiight.

 "Global Corp"?  C'mon.

 Also, even though accurate, you have to wonder about the vaguely anti-Semitic message regarding the Star of David.  

 Unless you want to see a nude-scene with a three-nippled woman, don't bother.

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