CONTENT WARNING: SEXUAL ASSAULT AND MURDER OF A CHILD ARE PLOT POINTS
I honestly don’t remember how Fire City: End of Days came up on my radar. The director’s done stuff, but nothing that would make him stand out as a director. The writers have done little else. And none of the actors are really big names or in really big things. But I was still drawn to the film, mostly because it looked like it had some cool looking monsters. And it did! But basically nothing else worth watching.
Fire City follows Vine (Mr. Tobias Jelinek, who was the long-haired biker kid in Hocus Pocus), a… demon? Pretty sure he’s some kind of demon pretending to be a human, but he throws the word around like it doesn’t apply to his people. He lives in a crappy apartment complex with other “demons,” all feeding on the misery of the humans around them. Shortly after stopping a guy from raping a little girl–we start the movie off on a very weird note–every human in the building shapes up and stops being a piece of shit (one of whom is Harry Shum Jr, known for Crazy Rich Asians and Step Up 2: The Streets [both of which have the same director, Jon M Chu]). Good for them, bad for the “demons” feasting on them. Turns out Vine and his ilk all cursed, or diseased, or something, and humans clean up their acts when the “demons” are around. It eventually comes to light that Vine is destined for greatness through a prophecy, but he’s also at risk of throwing it all away because he developed feelings for the little girl. Not romantic or sexual, thank Christ! But he cares about her wellbeing, which isn’t normal for his kind. Then it’s revealed that he didn’t save the girl–she was assaulted, murdered, and buried in the basement before the movie began. The girl he’s been interacting with is actually… Satan? It’s a very powerful demon who doesn’t normally live on Earth who talks about the titular end of days. But Vine begs the entity to save the girl, which… I’m sure has major implications, but this movie is never getting sequels so who cares. It’s a happy ending.
That’s right, I said “sequels.” Plural! This was supposed to be the first film in a four film series, but six years later, that’s clearly not happening. The film isn’t quite bad, per say, but it’s… not very good. The writers had a bunch of world building and ideas they wanted to explore, but nothing is presented in a way that makes much sense. These demonoids hide among humans–although they are really bad at that, apparently–and feed off the energy created by misery and suffering. But where did they come from? Have they always been hiding among us? The movie shows that they can and do have sex with humans, but can they have kids with humans or only their own kind? What do you mean they don’t dream? Why do they need a seer? Why isn’t any of this explained properly? The more that doesn’t get explained, the more frustrating trying to keep up becomes.
While the writers haven’t done much else beyond this, the director was an interesting choice. This is the only movie Tom Woodruff Jr’s directed, but that’s not what he’s known for. He’s a special effects guy, having won an Academy Award for his work on Death Becomes Her and getting accolades for working on films like The Terminator, Aliens, and Starship Troopers. But he didn’t work on these monster effects, which struck me as kind of weird; but his company Amalgamated Dynamics did, which does track. The practical monster makeup was the best part of the film by far, with the exception of one scene where a pig man’s talking required some computer effects that ended up warping the area around his mouth (which at one point included Vine’s leg). The monsters looked great, but it’s a shame the story didn’t match up.
Also, small thing, but Amalgamated Dynamics co-founder Alec Gillis–not to be confused with Alec Guinness, who was Obi-Wan Kenobi–wrote and directed the Kickstarted-funded Harbinger Down, which lives rent free in my head because it uses the same creaking metal door sound effect something like 16 times. It haunts my dreams.
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