Axel Falcon (2024) Review
The screener for Axel Falcon, the latest film from Bazz Hancher (Bonjour Monsieur Trepas, White Goods), also came with a screener for Darkly Took the Light. It’s a documentary about the difficulties and personal tragedies that surrounded the making of the film, and the toll it took on him and his interest in continuing to make films.
They range from the usual problems of indie filmmaking such as cast and crew members dropping out, to people connected to the film or the filmmakers being murdered or suffering serious illness. It’s an interesting piece, and quite different from the “our film was cursed” hype video it may sound like. It’s more of an explanation for some of the delays and announcements that came out during the film’s production.
Darkly Took the Light played before Axel Falcon at Horror-On-Sea and hopefully will be on the film’s eventual Blu-ray release as well.
As for Axel Falcon itself, it’s a very strange, almost impossible to categorize film. That may have something to do with its origin as a reimagining of S.N. Sibley’s film A Home for the Bullets by Hancher and Michael Walcott, with whom he’d previously collaborated on the giallo Hate Little Rabbit among other films.
While I haven’t seen A Home For the Bullets, the couple of reviews of it that I found make it sound like a much more straightforward police thriller whose horror and science fiction elements were a small subplot, something Axel Falcon inverts from the start, replacing the Vietnam set prologue with one from Axel’s childhood and the disappearance of his brother Jake (Morgan Underwood) at the hands, or should that be fangs, of a vampire like demon.
The basic plot remains the same, Axel Falcon (Richard Teasdale, Spring Lakes, Getting Away With Murder) is an honest cop determined to bring down Davro (William Stafford, The Pocket Film of Superstitions, Mr. Blades) the crime boss responsible for his partner’s death. After Davro’s men miss him but kill his ex-wife and their son, that determination becomes something beyond mere obsession.
With the filmmakers referring to it as “A fusion of cheese and gore” I was expecting something along the lines of Beyond Fury meets Psycho Goreman or Tokyo Gore Police, but it’s never that outrageous or brutal, probably for reasons relating to the budget. We do get an android, or maybe bionic would be a better term, henchman Trill (Thomas Lee Rutter, Monstrous Disunion, Day of the Stranger), the robotic Cyclops (Stuart Summerfield), and a steampunk inspired creature Killen (Kieran Edwards, The Devil’s Familiar).
The gore and violence ranges from a wince inducing scene of teeth being removed with a pair of pliers to a somewhat dodgy bullet to the head. While some of it is disturbing, it never really goes over the top in either a serious or Tromaesque way, which was a bit of a disappointment for me.
What is most likely to throw viewers off, however, is the film’s tone or, more accurately, its shifts in tone. One minute we’re seeing some rather nasty torture, the next we see something that looks like it came from an edgy episode of Dr. Who, and then dealing with real world issues like police corruption. And then we get a moment where we find out Axel’s dead partner was actually named Partner (Jay Giblin, Faun: Age of Darkness). The shifts from disturbing to silly can be a bit jarring, especially for those used to more mainstream films.
If you’re familiar with the director’s work, you’ll already be expecting something that’s anything but normal. And Axel Falcon will give them just that. More mainstream viewers may have some issues with it, but if you approach it with an open mind, you should have some fun with it, although they may want to bring some wine to go with the cheese.
Axel Falcon will probably be playing more festivals, and you can check the White Raven Films’ Facebook page for announcements. It will be available on Blu-ray at the end of the month via their website. And if Darkly Took the Light is on it, I’d recommend watching it first.