Religious based horror films are tricky. For every Rosemarys Baby or The Prophecy, there are hundreds of terrible films like, well, The Prophecy 2 through 4. The ultimate battle of good versus evil is such an epic tale that most film makers do not have the means to undertake such a grandiose project. Instead they give glimpses into the struggle between good and evil. They give you a battle instead of the entire war. Kingdom Come attempts to bring a new angle to the genre by filtering the ultimate struggle through the Saw II plot blender. Much like Saw II, results are mixed, and unfortunately for Kingdom Come there is no one like Shawnee Smith or Tobin Bell in the cast to rescue the film from mediocrity.
The film kicks of in very familiar territory. A bunch of strangers wake up in an abandoned building, this time a hospital, with no recollection of how they got there or why they happen to be there. In typical horror movie fashion, each one of our characters is a ridiculous stereotype. We get an angry black guy, a racist, the hero, the druggie slut, the ingenue, and you can figure out the rest. One of the things the film actually does very well is getting into the action quickly. Most of the characters back stories are told via flashbacks so the first act feels like we've been dropped somewhere into the second act.
Each of our characters has done something horrible in their lives, whether its killing someone while drunk driving, heroin addiction, rape, child molestation, murder, abortion - wait. What? Yeah, abortion. One of the big leaps you have to take if you are going to give the film as a whole a shot is that it treats abortion as a sin. Some of you will check out, and that is fine. Frankly, the whole abortion = sin deal was very difficult to watch. It's not handled well by the film either. I don't want to accuse the film makers of having a "pro-christian" agenda, especially considering some of the content earlier in the film, but it's hard to watch the last reel and not have that impression.
As the characters travel through the hospital they are each confronted with their "sin" or the person they "sinned against." Of course each of the characters have loose ties with the others. Some have wronged other characters, others have been complicit in their sins. Then, one of the characters reveals himself to be the Devil with the ultimate plan of punishing the people trapped in his hellish purgatory for their sins.
Directed by Greg A. Sager and written by Sager, Geoff Hart, and A. Jaye Williams, Kingdom Come is certainly an ambitious film. It's unfortunate that the film can't hold together under the pressure of that ambition. As a director, Sager certainly can hold his own. Visually, the film is pretty exciting in that dingy, Saw sort of way. Even the Devils henchmen are interesting interpretations of fallen angels. The film falls apart though when you start to actually listen to the dialogue. Calling the dialogue clumsy would be kind. It finds a rhythm after most of the cannon fodder candidates meet their doom, but until then - oof, rough stuff.
Kingdom Come is pretty deep in concept. The devil makes people trapped in purgatory choose whether or not to forgive those who have wronged them. Depending on their decision, determines whether or not they would go to heaven or hell. It's like the underrated Albert Brooks film Defending Your Life with a sinister twist. The problem with Kingdom Come is that it strays from that narrative far too much to keep it interesting during the second act. If it had stuck to the concept and kept it clear from point A to point Z Kingdom Come could have really been something special. Instead it's a middling affair (at best) with some decent looking demons, effects, and gore, a confusing message, some passable acting, and a lumbering script that hits the screen hard but meanders off track pretty quick.
** stars out of *****
Kingdom Come hits DVD/Blu-Ray and all the various VOD platforms on December 2nd. Check it out and support indie horror. As always thanks for reading and "enjoy every sandwich."