Review by Tom Swift
A living gargoyle risks his Satanic street cred by saving a girl and possibly Los Angeles — from fear.
Just in time for Halloween, the hero of this indie film discovers that he brings happiness to his tenement building. Now just how scary is that? He is apparently a “jen,” or a “genie,” who can shape shift from a hunky TV detective — to a zombie with too much gel in his hair. Moreover, like a gargoyle on a down rent cathedral, he and his band of dark siders lurk over humanity to inflict a culture of fear.
Our hero is called “Vine” by humans, “Adam” by the Medea like purple lady jen who he replaces as “the interpreter.” One has to wonder about the “Vine” name, of course. Since he never approaches Hollywood and Vine, you might wonder if this is a Jesus “interpretation: “ “I am the vine, you are the branches….” Vine brings an inner peace to the people he touches – even those he doesn’t sell weed to.
Now calling a character “Adam” brings the usual Genesis baggage. A new man? No. But maybe a new jen / gargoyle / monster who risks everything to save a young girl from her mother’s lecherous boyfriend. Vine / Adam has apparently developed a sympathy for us humans – that doesn’t affect his fellow monsters who also can’t be readily seen by humans. There’s an Oprah like explanation for this invisibility issue. In fact there’s many too deep explanations for almost everything here.
When you open a film with a quote from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, you’re no doubt on a quest for meaning: “Hell is empty and all the devils are here,” we’re quoted. And that quote’s just the low hanging, shallow sounding fruit in this often hollow ringing film. Now maybe my nerves were just jangled. It’s just so unusual to see a movie hero trying to inflict goodness. Remember what happened to Leo DeCaprio in Blood Diamond. Never fear, however. Vine can kill, just without gusto.
There’s no romance – which leaves you to wonder just what he’s up to by risking everything for the young girl. And she’s no Lolita – which would have been the Hollywood and Vine way. Given all that, what the film really lacks is the ring of authenticity. The gargoyles heads seem stiff and uninteresting. The mouths don’t really move. Vine’s gargoyle face just doesn’t carry the humanity we would need to really care about his revolution. Where’s the new Ron Pearlman when you need him?
There’s little action. Almost nothing goes bump in the night. But wait, there’s another stoner, dorm room dissertation just ahead that we can stumble through. You almost have to wonder if the whole exercise was meant to make goodness look boring. Now did the masons who built the great cathedrals of Europe and America with their incredible gargoyles looking down on you — know that too?
I won’t pick on individuals here. They meant well.
On DVD and Digital from Uncork’d Entertainment on October 6.
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