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Angel of Death

This is a dark and gritty ultra low budget thriller. A woman hiding out in a remote cabin in the woods is set upon by a gang of bank robbers. As she struggles to evade their advances a mysterious stranger arrives to turn the tables. This is violent, fairly tense and quite unpleasant in places but it struggles to overcome its limitations in terms of budget and acting talent.

The film opens with a bank robbery gone wrong and an angry gang on the run. We cut to Jessica who is running from her abusive husband. She decides to hole up at a remote cabin in the woods but the gang have the same idea. When they knock on her door she rather stupidly lets them in and predictably enough they decide to attack her. The leader Mackenzie seems to be the most dangerous and he keeps control of the others. In the event they are a pretty ineffectual bunch and for all of their talk they struggle to deal with the feisty Jessica.

After a while a stranger in a suit knocks on the door and begs his way in. For some reason the gang go along with it and invite him in, making a poor job of trying to cover up what is really going on. The stranger is not the mild mannered guy he appears to be and embarks on a killing spree causing the gang to panic. A pitched battle ensues and film builds towards a bloody climax.

The storyline is not terribly convincing and the characters behave distinctly oddly at times. The stranger is never explained and we are left to guess about his reasons for taking on a violent gang of bank robbers instead of contacting the police. The gang themselves are idiots. The direction is competent though there were no real stand out scenes and the tension was limited. The gory effects on some of the murders were well handled but the action itself was badly choreographed and unconvincing. The over bearing music soundtrack was grating throughout and contrasted irritatingly with the quiet speech.

One of the reasons the characters didn't really work was the amateurish acting. Iman as Jessica was definitely the pick of the bunch in terms of performances and she was believable as the battered housewife who had been pushed too far. Martin King was reasonably good as Mackenzie but for the most part the acting was awkward and the characters forgettable.

When I read the cover of Angel of Death I feared it would be an exploitation style film. It sounded like something in the same vein as The Last House on the Left but actually it never really came across that way. Although there was violence and abuse it was never particularly graphic and the film failed to build much of a sense of reality. It felt like a missed opportunity that a stranger had to turn up to save Jessica, it would have been much more engaging if she had dealt with the gang herself. In the end Angel of Death was a fairly dull affair.

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