Gabriel (2007)

Director Shane Abbess
Writers Shane Abbess, Matt Hylton Todd
Starring Whitfield, Dwaine Stevenson, Samantha Noble
Genre Gothic
Tagline Between heaven and hell lies the fate of mankind.

Okay finally got around to having a look at the third of the Down Under horror movies released in 2007 after missing Gabriel's cinema run due to a dose of the flu. Sony released the DVD this week, and would have to say if this was a review of the whole package then it sucks. Sony have gone with a bare arsed release here no extras kids! Lucky it's a review of the actual movie and that presents us with a much better deal.

Talk us through it

Purgatory, hey it's a catholic thing do a google, exists and it's actually a large metropolitan city. Who would have thought! Anywise Purgatory City, as I immediately dubbed it, is the landscape for a titanic struggle between the forces of darkness, the Fallen, and the forces of light, Arc Angels. Currently the Fallen are on top with the last hope for the forces of light, Gabriel, stepping up to the plate. Seems when you are sent into Purgatory City you take human form and can die, hey just like in that movie [i]The Matrix[/i]. Weren't we concerned about Amitiel losing her wings or something? Some other stuff about staying under the radar by not using your powers etc is also thrown into the mix. Seems the forces of light got their collective arses kicked and are hiding out for whatever reason.

Gabriel tracks down some of his own side, learns the score, and after a couple of the Arcs are taken out decides to go after the forces of darkness to bring light back to Purgatory City. Of course the big question is what did happened to the Arc Angel Michael, the strongest of the Angels? A movie dripping with atmosphere ensues.

Ready to dial into some furious action between heaven and hell, (okay that's a Catholic pun there kids learn to deal).


"This is a place, where even Angels fear to tread" - Gabriel

First up Director Abbess simply has his movie dripping with atmosphere. It's dark, it's intense, and it's more gothic than most Tim Burton outings. Everything works into the central notion that Purgatory is currently held under the thrall of the Fallen, hence grunge city amigos. I was checking out the heads on everyone in sight in case I spotted Kurt Cobain. The atmosphere actually works pretty well for the movie as with Gabriel Abbess is exploring some pretty heavy and dark themes. There's going to be no light at the end of the tunnel here, if you'll excuse the obvious metaphor.

Where Gabriel is slightly off is with the scripting, which very much has a "seen it before got the Tee" feel to it.
We know Gabriel will overcome each of the Fallen on his way to confronting head bad dude Sammael, and thisat all important battle with "the boss" will decide the outcome of the movie. If you are thinking video game then you are right on board my take on things. To the Writers credit they do manage to pop a couple of twists into the tale, one of which underpins the entire message of the movie. So don't go in expecting anything unique because you aren't going to get it.

One of the focuses within this movie is the eyes of the various characters, lots of close ups used to stunning effect. The Arcs all have vivid blue eyes, the Fallen have sort of fiery yellow, while Sammael looks to have decided to go all Marty Feldman on our arses. You know poach a couple of sparrow eggs and toss them onto an actor's face. The effect for Sammael just isn't working and I spent much of the movie wondering how uncomfortable the actor was behind the contact lenses. Watch out for one scene where Gabriel's eyes turn from blue to yellow to get the central theme of the movie.

Speaking of themes Gabriel could have been sub titled "the battle for Gabriel's soul" and to a greater degree is a restatement of Friedrich Nietzsche basic tenet "And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you". But as I keep saying we're your beer and pretzel review site and not a Critical site so that's as far as I'll go on themes, sub themes, and navel gazing.

Actually I also spent great swaths of the movie also wondering if Gabriel was the "one" and Neo just a ring in. We get the same wirefu, time lapse for quick movement, and golly a wonderful ability to dodge bullets from both the Arcs and Fallen. I'm not against this sort of stuff and the fight scenes within Gabriel are well choreographed, i.e. the Actors not notably taken through their fight paces step by step. But once again there's a whole "seen it before" vibe going down.

For gorehounds forget about it, Gabriel is pretty entrenched in the PG13 arena for pretty much it's entire almost two hour running time. This one is no problems for teen viewers or in fact those who normally shy away from anything under the "horror" label.

Andy Whitfield (Gabriel) is one charismatic dude and knocked my socks off with his titular character portrayal. Whitfield is someone to keep an eye on as the guy has the screen presence to go on to a lot of high profile Boredwood roles. Mark the dude's name down in your future reference diary kids. Dwaine Stevenson (Sammael) didn't work for me, he simply didn't have the screen nasties to match his fellow fallen. I spent ages trying to work out who Sammael reminded me of and finally pinned it as the leader of the biker gang in Romero's Dawn of the Dead.

Samantha Noble (Jade/Amitiel) played the "whore" pretty damn effectively, and she knocked my socks off with her hard nose Jade. Which is unfortunate as I had just put my socks back on after Whitfield's performance, there's a smell issue you really don't want to know about. Noble lightened up her look etc for later scenes. Just wondering if there was a Mary Magdalene influence or concept I was meant to take from this character, especially since Gabriel and Jade get all jiggy with it.

Zero on the T&A front, where were my exotic dancers Abbess? - you know you could have added them in Bro!

Brian Cachia did the score and went techno, trance, or rock as the visuals required. Freaking great stuff and quite possibly the best horror soundtrack since Goblin backed up their man Argento. There's some stunning use of choral choruses as well.

Summary Execution

I had a hoot with Gabriel and for mine it wins the best horror release of '07 Down Under title with daylight second. We get a good action movie, lots of metaphysical musings about free will, and a couple of twists in the tale that rocked. Visually the movie is stylish with lush gothic looks to every location. Now have to wait patiently to see what Director Abbess can come up with next, he surely is going to have some funds tossed his way.

At the start of 2007 Gabriel wasn't listed for cinema screening and remained pretty much under everyone's radar. The movie was rushed into cinemas Down Under but lacked the marketing firepower to do as well as could have been expected. A result under $2 million turned in. As of writing it appears Gabriel will be straight to DVD in most markets, which is unfortunate as the movie is far superior to the conveyer belt of dribble coming out of Boredwood currently.

If you didn't mind Constantine, dug yourself some of The Crow, and grooved to The Matrix then Gabriel is well worth dialling into. The whole fandango is thrown on like one of those Graphic Novel adaptations and you are going to have some fun times with it. Purgatory is suddenly cool, book yourself in it's going to be good for your soul.

ScaryMinds Rates this movie as ...

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