Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
36 Saints: The End of Days in Washington Heights
to mystical Judaic teachings, the Tzadik are thirty-six righteous men with no
desire to sin, whom G*d loves so much, he spares the rest of the sinful world
for solely for their sake. Technically, they are not part of the Christian
tradition, but Lilith is still out to get them.
If her minions murder each of the thirty-six in the manner their name
saints were martyred, it will bring about the victory of darkness over
light. However, it seems she could use a
remedial theology course for her attempt to bring on a boneheaded apocalypse in
Eddy Duran’s 36 Saints (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
have been some rather disturbing murders in Washington Heights. Father Esteban is bludgeoned to death in the
subway around the same time young Jesus Ochoa is crucified in his parish
church. It quickly becomes apparent the
victims are connected to an ill-fated youth group that perished in an airline
accident (quick, name the twenty-some saints who were martyred in plane
crashes). Ochoa and a handful of his friends survived that day, because they
chose to attend an award ceremony honoring their public service instead. A year later, Lilith is finally mopping up
poor Mother Theresa was just wasting her time with all that ministering to the
sick rigmarole. Merely patronizing the
hipster nightclubs of Washington Heights is sufficiently saintly for the
survivors of Ochoa’s youth group. Two
cops will try to protect the Holy Club Kids, but Joseph and Michael are
distinctly passive investigators, spending most of the film drinking coffee as
they wait for more bodies to be discovered.
terms of narrative, 36 Saints is
beyond messy. Its third act has the sort
of logical cohesion one typically sees when faded big name stars die while
filming ultra low budget movies and the producers hack together the shards of a
story around the scenes they managed to complete. Particularly problematic is the manner one of
Lilith’s “shocking” sleeper servants recklessly kills people in very public ways
that surely would reveal their identity, yet said minion somehow maintains their cover. Seriously, the evil lackey isn’t even using a silencer.
it comes to theology, 36 Saints is also
a train wreck. Strictly speaking, Eve is
not a saint and she certainly was not martyred by eating a poisoned
you-know-what. Perhaps screenwriters Jeffrey
De Serrano and Joey Dedio had her confused with Snow White, who is not a saint
either. Or maybe they were thinking of
Eva Marie Saint, who is not a saint in the sacred sense (as least not yet), or
even an “Eve,” but she made vastly better movies than 36 Saints.
considering the breadth of the Catholic world (growing by leaps and bounds in
China and Africa), it seems rather puzzling each and every saint would be
hidden in Washington Heights. Talk about
gentrification. This definitely constitutes
a case of putting all the world’s eggs in one basket. At least stash a few in Inwood. There is no way Lilith would ever go up there—it
just takes forever on the A train.
For some reason, Donna McKechnie, the original
Cassie in A Chorus Line, appears in 36 as the club kids’ teacher, Ms. El (a
suspiciously made-up looking name, if ever there was one), lending some
presence to the otherwise drab film. It
just does not seem right to call out the young cast for not bringing their
empty characters to life, but that does not leave viewers much to work
with. 36 probably sounds kind of cool, like the sort of religiously
themed horror films Max von Sydow or Jürgen Prochnow used to turn up in, but it
is a profound disappointment. Not
recommended for anyone, 36 Saints opens
this Friday (9/6) in New York at the AMC Empire.
Labels: Horror Movies, New York Cinema