Let’s get symbolic.
Armageddon Gospels is a retelling of English folktales in a surreal and transposed setting. We see the old gods put into the bodies of young adults and they go on a pilgrimage to restore England, or the world.
The film looks fine. The natural countryside makes for a nice setting as we follow our heroes on their journey. The camera work is mostly fine.
What is fun about this film is that it is shot (and presented) like a stage play. The costumes are minimal, and we get the sense that this was meant for the stage. Seeing this live would probably work better. We aren’t used to the overacted and performative gesturing in film, and here we get kind of a half-committed effort to fit this feel. The film feels disjointed due to this lack of full commitment.
I appreciate the effort put into this one. The film tries to be something different, minimal, and hypnotic. Sometimes it works, mostly it doesn’t fully come to life. However, with how much sub-standard genre crap that seems to be coming out lately I was more pleased to watch a failed experiment that at least dared to push the envelope.
One thing that might hurt the film for a lot of folks is that if you don’t have a decent background in Arthurian lore, you’re not going to have any idea what the hell is going on. I am not expert in this field, and the film is somewhat difficult to follow. Our mixture of prophetic and common language doesn’t quite work. I think they were trying to personify these figures, but it makes for an inconsistent feeling.
We end up with a lot of wandering and talking. The crux of the film is our characters determining who they are and what they need to do, but it is never compelling. There is a flatness to the storytelling that makes each scene feel the same. Without any distinction between pace or content the 90 minutes become a bit of a slog to get through.
I can’t recommend this one as it just doesn’t fully come to life. However, we have a unique effort here that might develop a bit of a cult following. I imagine fans of drama and English folklore will get a bit more out of this than the average viewer. With a larger budget, I would be curious to see what this team could do. Or, it would be nice to see this one adapted to an actual play.
The film reminds me a bit of Elias Merhige’s super-symbolic style, but this one doesn’t commit to the surreal (and bizarre) nature of those films. I’ve never appreciated a film that I did not enjoy so much. It isn’t worth watching, sadly.