A few weeks ago, my friends and I were faced with a hard choice. We had all gathered to watch a movie together, and the final nominees were this: Frozen, a highly beloved Academy Award winning Disney film, and The Crow: Wicked Prayer, the fourth movie in a mostly terrible franchise (saving the original, obviously), featuring the varied talents of David Boreanaz, Edward Furlong, Dennis Hopper, Danny Trejo, and Tara Reid.
I think you all know which one I watched.
It’s at least vaguely possible that we didn’t make the right call.
This review will contain SPOILERS because I’m begging you not to watch this movie. Save yourselves. SAVE YOURSELVES.
Jesus. Um. Okay, so ex-convict Jimmy Cuervo (Edward Furlong) and his GF Lily are murdered by a group of Satanists called, quite sadly, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Thankfully, the titular Crow temporarily brings Jimmy back to life so he can not only take revenge on the Satanists, but also stop leader Luc Crash (David Boreanaz), also known as Death, from becoming the Devil. Or possibly the Antichrist. Whatever, he’s EVIL.
1. There are an awful lot of places to start this review, but I think I’d like to begin with this particularly egregious Netflix Summary Fail.
Ex-con Cuervo and his girlfriend are murdered by a Satanic biker gang, but Cuervo rises from the dead with the power of the Crow to exact revenge.
I know that sounds a lot like my summary, but you’ll notice that mine never refers to the Four Horsemen as a biker gang because you know what these guys don’t have? Yes, exactly. Never once in the whole film do any of our Satanists ride a motorcycle. They do have tricked out Satanist cars, but those are slightly different things.
2. Now, to the movie itself — well, it’s basically incomprehensible. Wikipedia gives a film synopsis here which seems reasonable enough (well, terrible, obviously, but at least it sounds intelligible), but that’s only because they cut out all the utter lunacy that this film wraps itself up in. Without bothering to give you any kind true plot synopsis myself, here is a list of some questions I had after finishing the film.
A: How, exactly, does marrying a woman call forth Satan (or the Antichrist) into your body?
And again, is it Satan or the Antichrist, cause seriously, guys, those are two entirely different dudes.
B: Why is Satan expelled from your body and back to Hell if you don’t screw your Satanist bride before the sun comes up? Also, who makes up these rules?
C: Why did Lo (Tara Reid) try to kill Luc that one time, and why doesn’t Luc seem particularly upset about this? Because, you know, I feel like I would be.
D. How does ripping out someone’s heart cause ‘666’ to appear on your chest? Also, who thought this mesh shirt was a good idea? There might be people who can rock this shirt, but David Boreanaz, handsome as he is, is not one of them.
E: What’s up with the whole mine vs casino thing, anyway? I mean, I can see how miners would be pretty pissed about the mine closing, since that’s sort of their whole source of income. (Although I also feel obligated to point out that a casino would provide about a gazillion more job opportunities with less hazardous work conditions — other that secondhand smoke — than a mine would.) That’s not really important, though, because my real question is why is this shit even in the movie? It isn’t at all relevant to the actual plot — such as it is — and I’m still not entirely sure if the bad guys were for or against the mine, anyway.
F: Why is the Crow randomly invisible at one point?
G: Why does Jimmy Cuervo put on makeup after he comes back from the dead? I mean, other than the fact that ALL the Crow heroes do this — it made, at least, a little bit of sense when Brandon Lee did it in the original, since he regularly wore that makeup performing, but Jimmy . . . not so much. I’m confused by his choice of war paint.
H: Why did Luc take the time out of his busy schedule of becoming Satan to try and kill that one priest dude?
Was that the guy who killed Luc’s dad way back when? If so, why did he kill Luc’s dad way back when? Did it have anything to do with Jimmy Cuervo killing the priest dude’s son?
3. Speaking of which, here is a question that deserves its own note — why the hell is Lily’s family so mad at Jimmy?
We actually do get the answer to this question — it just doesn’t make any sense. See, Lily and Jimmy dated all the way back in high school. When some asshole tried to rape her, Jimmy intervened — and by intervened, I mean he accidentally killed the asshole while kicking the shit out of him. Now, I’m not saying that we should be flat out murdering all attempted rapists, but I am saying that if someone killed a guy before he could rape someone I loved, you know, I probably wouldn’t be all that broken up about it. Apparently, Daddy Danny Trejo and Police Cop Brother think differently, though, because they treat Jimmy as if he was some lowlife who used to knock over gas stations and/or ate puppies. And I’m like, Really? THIS is why you disapprove, because the dude your daughter and sister is dating once over-enthusiastically protected her from a horrific attack? Yeah, okay, guys. That seems legitimate.
4. Actually, I’m starting to think this whole review should just be a series of unanswered questions. Like, what the hell is David Boreanaz even doing in this movie?
Like, Edward Furlong, I get. Dennis Hopper, I get. Tara Reid, I really get. But seriously — David Boreanaz has had a pretty successful and consistent television career since 1996 and, as far as I know, no drug or financial problems to explain why he’d agree to be in this movie. Sure, it’s not unusual for TV stars to make bad decisions while trying to make the leap to film, and it’s certainly common for actors in genre television to appear in terrible horror movies, especially remakes. Tom Welling (of Smallville fame) was in the remake of The Fog. Jared Padalecki (of Supernatural) was in the remake of House of Wax. Jensen Ackles (also of Supernatural) was in the remake of My Bloody Valentine, not to mention the truly, TRULY abysmal horror film Devour. I don’t have a problem with any of that. (Well. I will always have at least a little bit of a problem with Devour.) You can’t always predict what’s going to turn out to be a total crapfest. David Boreanaz himself starred in the relatively shitty Valentine, and I understood that just fine.
But nobody, nobody, could have approached the fourth movie in a series that hasn’t been critically or commercially successful since 1994 and thought this was a good career move. So, seriously, Boreanaz. Were you really that strapped for cash between BTVS and Bones? Do you have secret gambling debts? Did you lose a bet? Inquiring minds want to know!
I suppose I should also throw out there that, acting-wise, Boreanaz is possibly the campiest in the whole bunch. (Well, him or Hopper, anyway. Oh, Hopper. Every line he has in this movie is so fucking crazy. I am sincerely relieved that this wasn’t his last movie, like one of my friends actually looked it up for me while we were watching because I was that worried. No one wants something like this to be your last statement in a lifelong career.)
But I’ll say this much for the guy: Boreanaz really commits to the sheer awfulness of this script. He overacts like no one’s business. I mean, he chews scenery like whoa, especially after he becomes the Devil/Antichrist. It’s, well. It’s entertaining, in a horrifying sort of way.
5. Here’s another question for you — why is it never a woman who comes back to exact vengeance for her dead lover?
I know that’s not really a problem with this movie, specifically, more with the franchise itself — because the entire plot of this series is really about Refrigerated Women — but I’m just saying, I’m ready for the Crow to bring back someone without a penis. There’s been talk off and on for a few years now about a Crow reboot — IMDb currently has Luke Evans attached, so yeah, that bodes well — but I don’t really see much point in it unless they actually do something interesting, like, casting a woman or, hey, what about a gay character? I don’t think gothy supernatural revenge romances need to be limited to heterosexuality, do you?
(I should say, it’s not actually that I dislike Luke Evans so much — he seems like a perfectly fine actor — as that he only seems to show up in the worst cheesy and/or boring genre crap. Other movies with Luke Evans: The Raven, The Three Musketeers, Immortals, Clash of the Titans, and the upcoming Dracula Untold.)
Also on a Feminist Fail note — I actually was mildly interested in the very beginning of the movie because it looked like, for half a second, that Tara Reid was going to be the leader of the Four Horsemen. Mind you, it’s not like Tara Reid would have been any better at being a Big Bad than David Boreanaz, but it was a surprising choice, and I was like, Hey, at least that’s interesting. You know, we have a woman in this movie who’s actually significant in some way to the story.
And then we quickly reveal that Tara Reid is just there to be David Boreanaz’s psychic love interest in a weird mask.
6. I don’t know if I have any more questions, exactly, but I do have a few more brief notes, in case you aren’t yet fully convinced on just how awful this movie is.
6A: In one scene, a dude’s mask keeps disappearing and reappearing every time you cut back to him. In another scene, a dead guy is visibly breathing.
6B: The sole black character in this movie is the not-so-funny comic relief, who abruptly turns out to be a virgin, who is then unceremoniously killed off.
6C: Luc hangs Jimmy Cuervo and then cuts out his heart for good measure. Jimmy’s blood, and I shit you not, falls to the floor in the shape of a heart.
6D. If you’re not up on your Spanish, ‘cuervo’ means crow.
For Christ’s sake, movie.
7. Finally — just because I thought this was funny — I watched this movie a couple of weeks ago, right? I jotted down some notes to work from, but sometimes my notes are not as detailed as they ought to be, not if I’m only getting to the actual review a few weeks later. I’m not willing to rewatch this movie just for your amusement — sorry, people — but this is easily one of my favorite things I’ve ever written down:
Furlong and eyes. Boreanaz and speech. Everyone and hair.
Let that be what you take with you when you think of The Crow: Wicked Prayer.
A SMALL REPRESENTATION OF HORRIFYING QUOTES:
El Niño: “I now pronounce you Devil, and his shorty.”
Lo: “I love you, Lucifer!”
El Niño: “Kiss the bride, motherfucker!”
El Niño: “He’ll be your homey now and forever more.”
El Niño: “Well, wicked-ass props to you, Mr. O.G., and thanks for representing all of the homeboys.”
Lo: “Luc? Luc?”
Luc: “Call me Lucifer.”
Jimmy Cuervo: “Quoth the raven, nevermore, motherfucker!”
Even worse than I could have imagined. And I wasn’t imagining anything good.
Er. Chop up people after you murder them? Because even if the Crow resurrects these dead dudes, they’ll find it a lot harder to seek revenge when they’re in seven pieces.