Writer/director/co-producer/cinematographer/editor Nicholas Gyeney has moved Heaven and Earth to get his first feature made, but has taken on too many of the tasks to craft a film that lives up to the tantalizing potential of its premise.
With the world languishing in faith there’s a divine opening for Lucifer (Michael Ayden takes top acting honours and should soon be offered roles that will take full advantage of his skills) to take a breather from hell and wreak havoc on the planet. God gets wind of his nemesis’ plans (conveniently predicted in a just-found bit of missing scripture) and dispatches a quintet of angels (notably Michael, Rory Colin Fretland, whose jaded eyes bedazzle with every glance). Their only job is to find a human suitable to defeat the Prince of Darkness, for if they take their magic swords into their own hands and re-dispatch the evil brute, the entire world stands to be ripped to shreds.
This all sounds delicious: the potential for multilayered images and metaphors raises the spectre of a production that will speak on many levels. But the realization of the creator’s intent soon becomes hopelessly mired in over-used dialogue, predictable plot points and largely wooden acting.
Happily, composer Adrian van Meter has come up with a score that, while sporting aural clichés of its own (the Bach progressions when in church; the frequent use of the chime at moments of decision—think A Fist Full of Dollars goes to Hades) manages to keep the ear engaged and the pace moving forward.
The reluctant hero is Police Officer Grayson Reed whose social life is nonexistent. His parents died long ago; singlehandedly, he’s raising his sister who’s brooding over a suddenly drug-dependent boyfriend (the cause of which demonstrates the power of scripture to strike fear into the hearts of men). Scott Gabelein tries his best, but has trouble maintaining his early-on established super abilities to thwart killers (from either side of the divide) only to be sucker punched in a routine handcuffing (whose only purpose was to set up a report to the newly arrived Satan, before ending in a story twist that could only be described as a narrative mercy killing).
What doesn’t click in the drama-side of the Devil Wore Brooks Brothers Suits is nearly overcome by Gyeney’s camera and editing skills. On several occasions the temptation is to turn the sound off and let the “show” tell all. No better example can be found than Reed’s struggle to tell his sibling, Kristy (Tellier Killaby, who engenders a tad too much worldliness and sophistication to be believable as the distraught, defenceless girl—still, her tryst with Diablo hints at a possible sequel down the line) that her distant, coke-snorting boyfriend, Ryan (Garth Herrick, whose skinny torso convincingly underscores his on-screen addiction), is dead. At a loss for words with the passing (and yes, Ryan used to be Reed’s partner—see paragraph three) the screen is soon awash with glances, cutaways and back-story that almost wordlessly says it all. More, please.
As we often say in music, “Wouldn’t it be great to start with the second performance?” Gyeney has shown by his début that there is talent to behold. Here’s to the next production where a sharing of the tasks and purposely creating a team that will necessarily be filled with Devil’s advocates will result in a deeper and more satisfying look at the issue du jour. JWR