DVD Review: ‘Kingdom Come’

Kingdom Come is one of those movies — legion among horror films — where the more they explain themselves, the sillier they become. Kingdom Come starts out as a confidently directed chiller (at least compared to its generally incompetent brethren in the nether realm of direct-to-video horror) that gradually evolves into a ludicrous, even offensive, take on spiritual redemption.

The movie opens with a group of strangers awaking to find themselves in a mysterious building with no idea how they’ve gotten there. As the group starts to investigate their surroundings they discover this is no ordinary building. We soon find that each one has a dark secret in her past, and, one by one, their demonic chickens come home to roost, figuratively speaking — literally, they’re more like demonic jackalopes. I’ll leave it there (lest the few of you still interested in this film wish to avoid spoilers), but, at the risk of cluing the reader in to one of the film’s more inane revelations, it should be noted that those who consider themselves pro-choice are almost certain to be offended by where this film eventually heads.

Going in with no idea what this film was really about, I did find myself engaged by it, at least for a while. The direction is unflashy but solid, even when the acting is fairly noncommittal. The look of the film is shadowy, filled with pools of deep blackness. It’s actually over dark, but at least it has a visual strategy to emphasize the mystery at the core of the story. The dialogue is generally bland — mostly consisting of variations on “Where are we?” and “Why are we here?” — but the screenplay does manage to parcel out some hints about its world without tipping its hand too soon. The film also parcels out kills at a consistent rate. While these are not particularly inventive, they are enough to keep things moderately entertaining.

The big problem is that this all leads to a lot of silliness (in execution, more than concept). Silliness isn’t so bad in itself, but Kingdom Come seems intent on being taken seriously. The movie glances at number of difficult issues — drug addiction, pedophilia, rape, racism, drunk driving, abortion, spiritual redemption — it can’t hope to fully explore. I doubt any movie could fully explore them, but Kingdom Come barely even tries. The characters are little more than cardboard cutouts meant to represent these various “sins,” and they all end up being treated with little more than a shrug. The end result is a film that is too silly to take seriously and too serious to enjoy its silliness.

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