Angels Fall but Only at the Last
When I saw "Angels Fall" advertised on TV it was called "Nora Roberts: Angels Fall" and as a rule any movie which uses the author or director's name before the title often isn't very good, especially one which is made for TV. But "Angels Fall" is different because it is a nicely put together little murder mystery with an interesting storyline, characters and a murder. It maybe a bit cliche, it may have a bit too much slushy romance going on and when it comes to the big reveal as to who the murderer is manages to pluck them out of nothing but strangely it entertains, drawing you in to this murder in the Rockies.
Whilst driving through the Rockies Reese Gilmore (Heather Locklear - The Perfect Man) finds herself stuck in the small town of Angels Fall when her car breaks down and it will take time for replacement parts to arrive. In need of money she finds work at Joanie's (Linda Darlow) diner where her expertise as a chef gets the whole town talking especially when she is so cagey about her past. Alongside the interest of the town Joanie's son Lo (Derek Hamilton) makes a pass for her but is rebuffed but Reese finds love with writer Brody (Johnathon Schaech - Road House 2) instead. When she witnesses a murder up in the mountains it is Brody who is the only one who believes her especially when her past, that she was the only survivor of a gun massacre in Boston and spent time in a mental institution struggling to cope, becomes public knowledge in the small town where everyone knows everything.
Now to be frank the basis of Nora Roberts' "Angels Fall" isn't that special as what we have is a simple murder mystery, as Reese witnesses a murder and we watch as various people could be the murderer who need to silence her. But the way the story elaborates on this simple murder mystery is nicely done as we have Reese who is initially a woman of mystery ending up in Angels Fall when her car breaks down. The mystery of why she seems to be on the run, why she is jumpy and paranoid about her secrecy is quickly revealed when we learn that she is haunted by a murder at Boston where she was the only survivor and has been in a mental hospital as she is unable to cope with the past. It makes her interesting especially with her being so private and guarded about her past.
It's because Reese is such an interesting character that whilst the quite typical romantic element which sees her falling for Brody, a writer, often borders on the slushy it is still entertaining. It is entertaining because he genuinely seems to care for her, understanding she is vulnerable and trying to help her move on from the past. Yet at the same time he could be the murderer and he's not the only one as there is also Lo who seems to be shady, Lo's mother who is protective of him despite his womanising ways plus there is the Sheriff's wife who doesn't like Reese. And what is nice is with Reese having various problems, such as doing stuff in her sleep she isn't aware off we have the murderer trying to make her think she is going crazy. How does the murderer know about her past well it is a clever little twist because in a small town nothing is secret and when the Sheriff mentions her past to one person everyone soon knows.
Basically for the most "Angels Fall" is nicely put together so whilst the basic murder mystery is ordinary the combination of Reese's past and someone trying to make her think she is going crazy again alongside various suspects makes it entertaining. But the trouble is that having spent around 90% crafting this intrigue we then get the reveal as to who the killer is and pretty much all the good work is undone. It is undone because whilst the killer is a possible suspect it almost feels plucked out of thin air and that is a shame although it does then lead to a less than surprising bit of closure for Reese as she has to battle her fears to save her life.
Now I am not going to say that "Angels Fall" has great acting going on but because the characters are interesting the performances generally work. And to be honest Heather Locklear does a nice job of playing Reese, beautiful but frightened and very paranoid. The scene where Reese is trying to go to bed, double checking she locked the hotel door, frightened of the dark and jumpy at the slightest noise really highlights how messed up she is. And Locklear works well with Johnathon Schaech who plays Brody the writer and love interest and what is nice is that Schaech makes Brody initially quite obnoxious, not nasty but not interested in others which makes him interesting. And the rest of the cast which includes Gary Hudson and Linda Darlow deliver equally good performances.
What this all boils down to is that "Angels Fall" is a surprisingly entertaining movie and not a bad TV thriller. It does make the mistake of almost plucking the killer out of thin air but it makes up for this mistake by elaborating nicely on a basic murder mystery storyline with interesting characters and various suspects, keeping the reveal right until the last.