With WRATH OF THE CROWS, I am happy to report that I have seen the first truly great film in my 31 Days of Horror binge. In truth, I should have expected nothing less. Ivan Zuccon had already impressed me with his Lovecraft adaptations THE SHUNNED HOUSE and COLOUR FROM THE DARK. This is an original story by Zuccon with a screenplay fleshed out by Gerardo Di Filippo. The tension is built upon the psychological drama that exists between the characters, all of whom are in a strange situation of ever-mounting dread.
Much of the film takes place in a nondescript row of cells, existing in a strange, limbo-like prison. Each cell holds a different prisoner, all of them there for some horrific atrocity. Throughout the film, we get glimpses of the crimes the condemned have committed and often the reasons they committed them. No matter their treatment, it’s often difficult to gain much sympathy for the people in WRATH OF THE CROWS. Though Zuccon’s rare insight combined with some wonderful performances do gift them with a sense of humanity. The inhabitants never come off as evil, but deeply damaged and haunted people.
The prisoners are not given a specific length of sentence, but different colored scarves tied to the bars of their cell informs them of three separate verdicts: death, a fighting chance at freedom or the worst sentence of all, life. Fascist soldiers carry out the sentences but as one of the prisoners points out, “We’re all animals in here, little soldier, especially you.”
Into their midst comes Princess (Tiffany Shepis), a mysterious and attractive woman who dons a black coat partially made of crow feathers and seems to prey on everyone’s weaknesses. Some of the inmates believe she is an angel, others believe she is a witch. But the fates of everyone in the film are inexorably linked to her.
In this role, Shepis is absolutely stunning. Anyone who dares to dismiss her as another wannabe scream queen should be prepared to eat crow (no pun intended) as she delivers a truly amazing performance. As if she hadn’t already done so in earlier roles, Shepis once again proves what an accomplished actress she is.
Speaking of which, Debbie Rochon co-stars here as well. And much like in COLOUR FROM THE DARK, Zuccon gives her a part worthy of her talent. A sick and embittered prisoner, sentenced for a crime of passion, she is the cynicism of the prisoners made flesh, which does not mean she isn’t a tragic figure in her own right.
Once again, Zuccon has crafted an original film that relies as much on atmosphere and the interplay between characters as it does the shocking and horrifying set-pieces contained within. WRATH OF THE CROWS is a real treat for anyone looking for something fresh in the horror genre.
Oh, and be sure to stick around through the end credits. Highly Recommended.
ABOUT 31 DAYS OF HORROR
For the month of October, I and a number of other people are taking part in the 31 Days of Horror Challenge. Each day in October, we watch one horror film and share our opinions through social media. Because my reviews tend to run longer than what they’re supposed to, and because I never know when to stop myself, I’ll also be posting my reviews here as part of Moviocrity.com’s revitalization efforts.
RATING SYSTEM AND CRITERIA
- What was the film trying to accomplish and how well did it meet those goals?
- In addition to (or sometimes despite) that, how does the film hold up on sheer entertainment value?
The Best – Reserved for the absolute cream of the crop.
Highly Recommended – Very good. Far better than your typical film and one that I will remember for some time.
Recommended – Just what it says. This is a good film and earns a recommendation. Don’t think that because it’s not one of the top two categories that these films aren’t worth your time. The “recommended” tag is a winner and nothing to sneer at.
Barely Recommended – The middle of the road. Those films where I didn’t feel it was a complete waste of time, but it didn’t set my world on fire either. Not bad, but leaves me feeling bored and/or apathetic.
Disappointing – Close but no cigar. Does a few things right but is ultimately a whole lot of wasted potential. Not recommended.
Awful – A bad movie. Pure and simple. Not worth your time.
The Worst – The Britta Perry of ratings, though not as entertaining. The bottom of the barrel.