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Evil Angel (2009)

Director: Richard Dutcher
Starring: Kristopher Shepard, Ving Rhames, Ava Gaudet, Marie Westbrook, JJ Neward
Rated R 123 minutes

 The “Father of Mormon Movies” takes a drastic detour into the world of occult horror in EVIL ANGEL. A paramedic, his emotionally disturbed wife, and a private detective become mixed up in a mystery involving hookers and black magic. An already bad situation is made even worse by the arrival of a murderous, body-hopping female demon who begins hunting and murdering people around the city. I’m hesitant to give away much more about the plot of EVIL ANGEL. Writer/director/editor Richard Dutcher takes great care to unveil the story slowly, and it would be too easy to unintentionally spoil the surprises. While the movie doesn’t do anything you haven’t seen before, what it does, it does very well.

The first thing I noticed was how good this movie looks, which is due in large part to the camera of cinematographer Bill Butler. For a movie made independently on a relatively low budget, it looks as clean and sharp as anything Hollywood has put out recently. The title sequence is absolutely gorgeous, with a scantily clad woman slowly and sensously removing what little clothing she wears. There’s a joke hiding-in-plain-sight here that you may or may not notice right away. I didn’t. Just when you think you’re about to watch a slicker-than-usual erotic thriller, the film abruptly shifts into a extremely tense scene involving a terrified man and a horde of white faced demons who are pursuing him. Dutcher nails these startling changes in tone masterfully, and goes on to do this several times throughout the picture. Dutcher moves from intelligently written drama to gory and exciting action and back again without so much as a hiccup.

Ava Gaudet in Richard Dutcher's EVIL ANGEL
Lilith attacks
This is a movie with smart writing and solid acting, and the entire cast here does an admirable job. Even Ving Rhames, who has spent about a decade phoning in roles in a slew of DTV dreck, is good as Carruthers, the jaded private eye who ends up getting personally involved in the case. Ava Gaudet is the standout here, as the gorgeous, but extremely disturbed wife who seems to be constantly planning new ways to manipulate her long-suffering husband. Richard Dutcher even has a small role as an eccentric paranormal expert who helps Marcus figure out what's going on.

For a guy known primarily for Mormon oriented films, Richard Dutcher appears to be perfectly comfortable working in the horror/thriller genre. While EVIL ANGEL might be a little too slow and character driven for some horror fans, it’s an impressive outing that is deserves more attention than it’s gotten to date.