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FILM REVIEW: Tom DeNucci’s ‘Army of the Damned’

Saturday, February 01, 2014

 

Official artwork for Army of the Damned, which was filmed entirely in Cranston. Credit: Woodhaven Films

It’s a new year and you know what that means: a new movie from East Greenwich based Woodhaven Films. In less than four years, this local production company has consistently turned out horror film after horror film – each better than the last.

In January, Woodhaven released their fourth movie entitled Army of the Damned, which was directed by Tom DeNucci. Born in Cranston, DeNucci has been with Woodaven from the beginning – appearing in Inkubus (2011) alongside horror icon Robert Englund. Since then, he has moved behind the camera. Last September, DeNucci wrote, directed and starred in the horror comedy Self Storage, which we reviewed here.

Although Self Storage was a fun movie, there were some shortcomings, which wasn’t surprising considering it was DeNucci’s first time directing. Luckily for DeNucci, and movie fans, the local filmmaker has worked out some of the kinks in his latest film.

The story

Like Self Storage before it, AOTD doesn’t rely on an intricate plot – nor does it have to. The movie centers around the filming of a reality television series – similar to Cops – where host Kayla (Jackie Moore) and her trusty cameraman Dave (Joey Fatone) are chronicling a day in the life of a small town cop named Bridge (Sully Erna). Although the shoot is uneventful at first, things kick into high gear when the group responds to a call at a nearby home.

Once inside the house, all hell breaks loose as Bridge and his team battle a mysterious supernatural being determined to possess he and his fellow officers – turning them into an "army of the damned." In addition to battling this unrelenting force, Bridge and his team are also at odds with Kayla and Dave who are intent on capturing all the action on film.

DeNucci, who also wrote the script, doesn’t try to make the story more sophisticated than it needs to be, and keeps it straightforward throughout the movie. That said, the inclusion of a reality TV element does put a unique spin on the average supernatural horror film.

The performances

Anchoring the cast of AOTD are horror veterans Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes, The Devil’s Rejects) and Tony Todd (Candyman, The Rock). Berryman especially shines in his performance as Earl, an endearing ex-cop who is all too familiar with the mysterious entity plaguing Bridge and his crew. The role is a nice change of pace for Berryman, who typically portrays crazed villains. 

Todd, who is best remembered for The Candyman series, has a small, but effective part as a SWAT team leader. Todd doesn’t show up until the later half of the film, but he still makes the most of his screen time showcasing his trademark charisma.

Godsmack front man and Massachusetts native Sully Erna is also quite good in his portrayal of Bridge. AOTD marks the first starring role for the rock singer, but he certainly manages to hold his own with Berryman and Todd. Jackie Moore is adequate as the assertive TV host, but perhaps a veteran actress with more gravitas might have been more suitable for the role.

As for the supporting cast, Joey Fatone (My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Inkubus) and Warwick native Nick Principe (Self Storage, Laid to Rest) particularly stand out. Both actors provide the bulk of the movie’s comic relief, and do so quite effectively. Rounding out the supporting cast are local actors Tom Paolino and Joe Sirani; professional wrestlers Tommy Dreamer and Thea Trinidad; and former Baywatch star David Chokachi.

Room for improvement

The one major area where AOTD is lacking is its musical score. There are a couple of Godsmack songs in the film, which work well during the action sequences, but the original music composition falls flat. A gripping original score is vital for any movie, but it’s especially important in the horror genre. An effective horror score not only keeps the audience engaged, it’s also able to elicit emotions and create a mood. Unfortunately for AOTD, it's score achieves none of the above. A more appropriate score could have helped build tension throughout the film and prepared the viewer to be scared.

The final verdict

Ultimately, AOTD succeeds in being a fun horror movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Notwithstanding several shortcomings, DeNucci has crafted an enjoyable film that is a nice addition to the independent horror genre. Additionally, AOTD illustrates that DeNucci has grown as a filmmaker and makes the prospect of a new film all the more appealing.

Rating: 3 out 5 stars

Army of the Damned is currently available on iTunes, Video on Demand, and Amazon.com. Look for it at your local Redbox in the near future. For more information visit the film’s Facebook page.

 

Related Slideshow: 25 Movies Filmed in Rhode Island

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Moonrise Kingdom

2012

Director: Wes Anderson

Cast: Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray Frances McDormand

This Oscar nominated film features many local landmarks including Fort Wetherill State Park, Bayfield Farm, and the Conanicut Lighthouse.

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Mr. North

1988

Director: Danny Huston

Cast: Anthony Edwards, Robert Mitchum, Lauren Bacall

Shot in Newport, this comedy-drama features Anthony Edwards as a con man attempting to break into the 1920s Newport social scene. 

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There's Something About Mary

1998

Directors: Peter and Bobby Farrelly

Cast: Cameron Diaz, Matt Dillon, Ben Stiller

Filmed partly in Providence, this movie was the highest-grossing comedy in 1998. 

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Federal Hill

1994

Director: Michael Corrente

Cast: Nicholas Turturro, Anthony DeSando, Libby Langdon

Set in Providence's Federal Hill neighborhood, the movie marks the directorial debut of Pawtucket native Michael Corrente.

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Age of Innocence

1993

Director: Martin Scorsese

Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Winona Ryder

This Oscar winning drama was partly filmed in Portsmouth.  

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True Lies

1994

Director: James Cameron

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold

The ballroom scenes in the movie were filmed at the Rosecliff Mansion in Newport.

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High Society

1956

Director: Charles Walters

Cast: Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra

Nominated for two Academy Awards, the movie's opening shot features a flyover of Newport’s oceanfront mansions. 

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Thirteen Days

2000

Director: Roger Donaldson

Cast: Kevin Costner, Bruce Greenwood, Steven Culp

This docudrama about the Cuban Missile Crisis was partly shot in Newport. 

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Little Children

2006

Director: Todd Field

Cast: Kate Winslet, Patrick Wilson, Jennifer Connelly, Jackie Earle Haley

Shot partly in Providence, this critically acclaimed drama received three Academy Award nominations, including a Best Lead Actress nod for Kate Winslet.

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RIPD

2013

Director: Peter M. Lenkov

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Bacon

A car chase for this action-comedy was filmed in downtown Providence. 

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Amistad

1997

Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins, Dijimon Hounsou, Matthew McConaughey

Shot at the Rosecliff Mansion in Newport and the State House in Providence, this drama received four Academy Award nominations in 1998. 

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Outside Providence

1999

Director: Michael Corrente

Cast: Shawn Hatosy, Amy Smart, Alec Baldwin

Filmed in multiple locations throughout Rhode Island, this movie is an adaptation of Peter Farrelly's 1988 novel of the same name.

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Me, Myself & Irene

2000

Directors: Peter and Bobby Farrelly

Cast: Jim Carrey, Renée Zellweger. Chris Cooper, Robert Forster, Richard Jenkins

Filmed in Newport, Narragansett, Jamestown, and Galilee, this comedy centers on a Rhode Island State Trooper played by Jim Carrey. 

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Evening

2007

Director: Lajos Koltai

Cast: Vanessa Redgrave, Claire Danes, Toni Collette, Meryl Streep

The film was primarily set in Newport and included large portions shot at Gooseberry Beach.

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The Great Gatsby

1974

Director: Jack Clayton

Cast: Robert Redford, Mia Farrow, Sam Waterston, Bruce Dern

This Academy Award-winning drama was filmed in Newport at the Rosecliff Mansion on Bellevue Ave.

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Self Storage

2013

Director: Tom DeNucci

Cast: Eric Roberts, Jonathan Silverman, Michael Berryman, Tom DeNucci

Filmed in a self storage facility in East Greenwich, this horror-comedy marks the directorial debut of Cranston native Tom DeNucci. 

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27 Dresses

2008

Director: Anne Fletcher

Cast: Katherine Heigl, James Marsden, Malin Åkerman, Ed Burns

Shot throughout Rhode Island, locations included the Rosecliff and Marble House mansions in Newport and a beach in Charlestown. 

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Dan in Real Life

2007

Director: Anne Fletcher

Cast: Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche, Dane Cook, Alison Pill

Filmed primarily in Jamestown, the movie also features the Point Judith Lighthouse in Narragansett.

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Hachi: A Dog's Tale

2009

Director: Lasse Hallström

Cast: Richard Gere, Joan Allen, Jason Alexander

Filmed primarily in Bristol and Woonsocket, other locations included the Columbus Theater in Providence and the University of Rhode Island in Kingston. 

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The Education of Charlie Banks

2007

Director: Fred Durst

Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Jason Ritter, Eva Amurri

Shot partially in Brown University in Providence, the movie marks the directorial debut of Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst.

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Meet Joe Black

1998

Director: Martin Brest

Cast: Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, Claire Forlani

Warwick's Aldrich Mansion served as the residence of Anthony Hopkins' character in the film. 

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Reversal of Fortune

1990

Director: Barbet Schroeder

Cast: Jeremy Irons, Glenn Close, Ron Silver

Jeremy Irons took home the Oscar for Best Actor for this drama, which was partly shot in Newport.

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Underdog

2007

Director: Frederik Du Chau

Cast: Jason Lee, Peter Dinklage, Patrick Warburton, Amy Adams

Shot entirely in Rhode Island, filming locations included Hope High School on the East Side of Providence.

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Tanner Hall

2009

Directors: Francesca Gregorini, Tatiana von Furstenberg

Cast: Rooney Mara, Georgia King, Brie Larson

Shot in Providence and Newport, the film marks the the directorial debut of Brown University graduates Francesca Gregorini and Tatiana von Furstenberg.

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Dumb and Dumber

1994

Directors: Peter and Bobby Farrelly

Cast: Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Lauren Holly

Scenes from the beginning of this comedy were filmed on location in Providence, including a shot of the Big Blue Bug.

 
 

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