She's a Devil of an Angel…and she'll scare the HELL out of you!
Here again is Troma with another of its finds, yet this one has a certain air of mainstream validity to it. Angel Negro racked up the "official selections" at a bunch of fantasia film festivals, and Troma is not afraid to flaunt them on the DVD case. But will this Chilean horror installment reveal a new take on the horror genre, or is "tired exercise in slasher mediocrity" a trans-continental term?
Facts of the Case
The movie opens with camcorder footage. We see young students preparing to celebrate their graduation, like all young students do, through debauchery and subsequent vomiting on a local beach. While at said vomit-ridden beach, an incident occurs between a young girl named Angel and some friends, which we don't see. All we capture is a glimpse of her friends on their knees, cradling their heads and wailing at the top of their lungs. What happened to Angel? The answer to that question is what drives the movie.
Jump ahead to the present. Gabriel (Alvaro Morales) is a forensic surgeon, hiding a big secret: he was intimately involved with the beach incident years ago. These memories still haunt him, specifically because of his relationship with Angel. On a bet, Gabriel asked out Angel—the school's recluse and general weirdo—with the intent to boink her. Of course, he ended up actually digging the girl, and thus the afterschool-specialish complications. Angel, well, she doesn't make it.
Gabriel, still haunted by what took place on that beach, is about to feel a whole lot worse. Those involved with Angel's fate are getting picked off one by one, and it's up to Gabriel and Carolina (Andrea Freund)—another friend from the past—to crack the mystery, before getting sliced and diced themselves.
For all the hype this disc bestows upon itself (noting its many honors at horror film festivals), this just ain't terribly original. Chilean or not, this movie offers nothing particularly shocking or, well, new to the horror genre.
It was well done, and the killings were pretty gruesome. While there is, of course, the dependable twist at the end, not once did I find myself thinking: "Hey, I've never seen that before in a horror movie!" (Well, except for that lingering shot of a naked stiff on the autopsy table…eccchhh.)
All the horror mainstays are here: throbbing music to signal something bad is going to happen, a few jump scenes, a killer in a wacky mask, and a few pints of blood. What this movie devotes a little more time to than the standard slasher fare is the romantic thread between Gabriel and Angel, presented mainly through flashbacks. Sadly, this kind of worked against the film, as that particular plotline was also rife with cliché "boy-makes-a-bet-to-date-the-class-outcast-but-ends-up-falling-in-love." Please! I half-expected Freddie Prinze, Jr. to show up.
Okay, for you horror fans, what's the scare/gore factor here? Kind of in between. It's bloody, sure, and there's a pretty graphic stabbing scene in which the most disturbing part was the sound effects. The flick started on a fairly eerie note with the video footage. There's something about old, grainy camcorder stock that makes things creepy (as a side-note, freaky little girls are also inherently scary; see The Shining and The Ring).
Yet the ambiguity of the opening sequence never really paid dividends. Put simply, the truth of Angel's fate didn't strike me as terribly compelling.
Okay, enough ruminating. Angel Negro is not piss-poor by any means, but it certainly won't change the way you look at horror movies. Oh, and you better have your reading glasses on, because it's subtitled.
Troma did a nice job with this presentation, which is kind of the norm for the studio. This isn't the usual type of schlock the Troma team churns out, and that's reflected in the disc's appearance and bonus features.
The extras are pretty forthcoming, with a behind-the-scenes feature on the making of Angel Negro and an interview with director Jorge Alguin. This, combined with the director commentary tracks (one in Spanish and one translated), grants the viewer as much info about the creation of the movie as he or she wants. Much attention is paid to the autopsy sequences, how they filmed in a real forensic lab, and how there were actually corpses nearby, and so on. Kind of funny, seeing how the autopsy stuff is not very prominent in the film itself. The rest of the extras deliver Troma trailers and some Troma book and website spots (and a really crazy "radiation march.")
The movie gets a basic full-screen transfer and a relatively unimpressive Dolby Stereo mix.
Well, Mr. Olguin, not a bad try, but this Angel needs to have her wings clipped.
Angel Negro is ordered to one of the rear video store shelves, where she is to serve out the remainder of her sentence among the other disposable horror movies.
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