Written & Directed by: Tom DeNucci
Army of the Damned is Tom DeNucci’s second feature film and he shows much promise as a young 29 year old Director. The films plot follows Police Captain Bridge, followed by a Cops-like reality TV show crew (the cameraman played by none other than ex-NSync member Joey Fatone), as he investigates a domestic dispute call that turns out to be something far sinister. The suspense and tension in the first half of this movie is great, as the viewer is never quite sure whats around the next corner.
After the first hour, however, after the body count begins to rise the film does a complete 180 as the tone shifts from horror to all-out 80’s action, complete with tough talk and manly bravado. While the film will not win any awards for acting, Sully Erna (Lead Singer of Godsmack) turns in a good performance as lead character Bridge. Michael Berryman, known for playing the villain, portrays Crazy Earl who turns out to be groups savior, and Tony Todd makes an appearance in the last act playing a cocky and arrogant leader of a Police Task Force. Casting genre favorites in support roles definitely goes a long way.
The length, an hour and a half, is perfect and the film moves at a brisk pace and sets up an even more action packed sequel. The final shot of the film reminded me a lot of Bordello of Blood, however.
Sully Erna. As mentioned earlier, Sully Erna turns in a surprisingly good performance in the lead role, which goes a long way for the audience to get invested in what’s occurring on-screen. I say surprising because Sully is not known for acting, but for being the lead singer of Godsmack. Its a brave choice of casting that ultimately pays off.
Great Use of Suspense In First Half. The slow build of tension and suspense at the beginning of the film, when the audience and characters in the film are still trying to find out whats happening, works well. Every time a character turns a corner the audience knows it could lead to that persons death. About half-way through the film, when the film transitions from horror to action, all of the suspense and tension goes out the window.
80”s Action Vibe. Once the horror ends and the action begins I felt as if I had been thrown into an 80’s action movie. We get tough talking cops, the crazy guy prepared for the apocalypse who has tons of guns, the comic relief and the bad-ass overconfident leader of a Police Task Force. Add in tons of guns, an explosion and the standard tough talk, and you’ve got the last half-hour of this film.
Good Use of Genre Actors. As I mentioned earlier, having genre favorites such as Michael Berryman and Tony Todd adds a lot to this film. Having them as support character’s to a main cast of lesser named actors definitely contributes positively to this film’s appeal. Also the inclusion of Joey Fatone is great because, lets admit it, we have all wanted to see a member of NSync kick the bucket.
Solitary Location. Army of the Damned takes place almost entirely in one primary location, a house where apparently an entire family has been murdered. Tom DeNucci’s last film, Self Storage, took place entirely at a self storage facility which was a benefit to that film. Here, however, I believe it is a hindrance because this film seems like it should be on a grander scope. This is especially true during the last half-hour. It probably had to do with the films budget, but it felt like this film needed to be bigger than just one location. Perhaps we will see that in the sequel?
Not Enough Tony Todd. Tony Todd is an intimidating presence, just look at films like Sushi Girl and Candyman. in Army of the Damned, Todd comes into the movie about an hour into the film, gets to say some badass lines and then is really not given any screen time besides that. That is a shame because not only is he one of the top billed actors in the film, but his extended presence would have greatly increased this films impact.
Army of the Damned is a great sophomoric effort from Director Tom DeNucci. The film starts off as an atmospheric suspense-filled horror film and transitions into an all out action film, complete with tons of bullets and a large death count. Army of the Damned is not without it flaws however, the use of the singular location for all the action scenes and the lackluster use of Tony Todd hurt the film, but that in no significant way ruined my enjoyment of this highly entertaining flick. With the lack of good genre fare lately, except for maybe perhaps Curse of Chucky, American Mary and the remake of Maniac, movies like Army of the Damned need to be supported.
Army of the Damned is the perfect film to watch with a group of friends while throwing back some beers and shots. Its currently available On Demand for about Five bucks and for that price you will get an entertaining flick that is well worth your time.