"Wrath of the Crows"
Director: Ivan Zuccon
Written By: Gerardo DeFilippo (screenplay)
Ivan Zuccon (story)
5 prisoners in a decrepit prison, a mysterious dark princess, sadistic guards giving chances for "escape"...for a price. These are characters that populate Ivan Zuccon's "Wrath of the Crows". We soon find that there are monsters on both sides of the cages, and is definitely NOT what it seems in this surreal exercise in brutality, vengeance and, finally, deliverance.
Zuccon's previous work always showcased his talent for getting unparalleled performances out of his cast, and "Wrath" is no exception. Featuring indie legend Debbie Rochon as "Debbie", Tiffany Shepis as "Princess", Tara Cardinal as "Liza", Domiziano Arcangeli as "Larry", and Brian Fortune as "Hugo", this film was either written with these thespians in mind, or the casting was guided by some higher power, because this cast is perfect! The film opens with Skinny (John Game) being given a reprieve of sorts--a chance at escape with conditions imposed by the Officer (played to cool, evil perfection by Michael Segal) and his underlings, Soldier (Matteo Tosi) and the truly bizarre Dog (Guiseppe Gobbato). Skinny finds a form of deliverance, but it's not escape from the prison. Back stories on all the characters soon fill in the blanks, and the viewer learns that evil isn't a constant in any form in this moody masterpiece.
Much has been made about the Italian stylists in the horror genre--Bava, Argento, Fulci...and others to a varying degree, with "Wrath", Zuccon has truly cemented his place among the elite "Maestros" of genre cinema. The film is a visually stunning, darkly foreboding, ride into the darkest recesses of the human soul, and the lengths the condemned will go for redemption. Loaded with subtext, lushly photographed, and exquisitely paced "Wrath of the Crows" is a feast for the eyes as well as the ears, with a fantastic sound design and musical flourishes that enhance the film's suspense and action. I was literally glued to every frame! Plenty of gore and violence serve to shock the viewer into remembering that-THIS IS A HORROR FILM!
As if the look wasn't enough, the film boasts a magnificent performance by the gorgeous Shepis (in a role literally made for her, she shines brighter here than at any other point in her career) evil, malignant, and deadly, and Rochon is amazing, making it look "easy", as she veers deftly from defiant to vulnerable with a slight change in expression. Tara Cardinal brings a delicate balance of sympathy and abhorrence to the tormented "Liza", especially after her character's past is revealed. Gerry Shanahan excels as the wizened "Charlie", with Emanuele Cerman and Carl Wharton rounding out the talented cast. Also look for a creepy effort from Suzi Lorraine that works incredibly well.
"Wrath of the Crows" is a very nearly perfect film. It's the type of feature that comes along once in a great while, that leaves the viewer exhilarated, terrified, and, ultimately breathless. Masterfully directed, written with a practiced hand, superbly acted, excellently shot, and crafted with an acute sense of style-something that is truly lacking in today's genre fare. Other than a few bits of clunky, awkward dialogue, there is literally nothing to complain about. SEE THIS!!! However you can, on Blu-ray, on DVD, or projected on a big screen!! With Bava and Fulci gone, and Argento slipping lately, Zuccon is a more than worthy candidate to claim the throne of Italian horror film.