Wednesday, January 11, 2023

The Devil Conspiracy

The Archangel Michael is a celestial badass according to Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. In Paradise Lost, he kicked Satan’s butt and banished him to Hell. Consider this the horror movie sequel. He is still the sort of angel who would rather beg forgiveness than ask permission, so jumps right in (into a dead priest’s body) when a cult of Satanists steal the Shroud of Turin. They’re only getting started in Nathan Frankowski’s insane film The Devil Conspiracy, which opens Friday in theaters.

Comparative religions student Laura Milton (fittingly) is present in the Turin exhibition when an elite team of Satan’s minions, led by the mysterious Liz, steal the shroud. They also kidnap Milton, suspecting she could be “useful,” but they leave her friend, Father Marconi for dead. However, with his dying breath, he graciously offers himself as an earthly vessel to Michael, who accepts.

It turns out Liz and Dr. Laurent, her evil geneticist, need the shroud to clone Christ’s DNA, to use him as a vessel for their dark lord. They tried before with regular mortals, but they were not strong enough to withstand the evil one’s power and rage. Conveniently, the unfortunate Milton looks like an excellent candidate to carry and birth their unholy infant.

This is definitely a Revelations-level crisis, but Michael quickly lays plans for his assault on their stronghold. He only stops for some intel gathered by Cardinal Vincini, a hardline demonologist, who was packed off into retirement, because he was considered a little too intense. Recent events have certainly vindicated him, but neither he or Michael is inclined to much care what people think.

One can only wonder what the Saints in Heaven might think of this film. It is basically
Paradise Lost mixed with Jurassic Park, on an angel dust bender. This is the most over-the-top, deranged horror film to get a professional release since Will Klipstine’s The Harbinger, but that film somehow comes together at the end, whereas Devil Conspiracy undermines a lot of its wacky good will with a spirit-crushing seen-it-a-million-times-before ending, obviously intended to set up a sequel.

It is a shame, because most of the third act sustains a frenzy archetypal good versus evil clashes, executed through guns-blazing action sequences. This film literally goes to Hell and back several times over. The focal point for it all is the Satanists’ nifty looking fortress, supposedly erected over the crack in the Earth, where Michael pile-drove Satan into Hell.

Without question, the massive creepiness Eveline Hall brings as Liz really helps set the right tone. James Faulkner is also totally awesome as the crusty old Cardinal. Frankly, Peter Mensah has an appropriately regal look that works quite well for Archangel Michael. Unfortunately, “the Hound of Heaven” spends more time in the very mortal-looking body of Joe Doyle’s Father Marconi. However, Alice Orr-Ewing has a spectacular freak-out as Milton that rivals Isabelle Adjani in

is often deranged but it looks surprisingly polished. Its logic is dubious, but there is consistency and method to its madness. There is a weird kind of inspiration at work here, unlike 36 Saints, a somewhat thematically similar movie, which will probably be playing on every movie screen during End Times, to punish the wicked. So, brace yourself, because The Devil Conspiracy opens this Friday (1/13) in theaters, including the AMC Empire in New York.