The Devil Conspiracy, 2023.
Directed by Nathan Frankowski.
Starring Alice Orr-Ewing, Joe Anderson, Peter Mensah, Spencer Wilding, James Faulkner, Joe Doyle, Eveline Hall, Brian Caspe, Victoria Chilap, Wendy Rosas, Natalia Germani, Pavel Kříž. and Jiří Valeš.
The hottest biotech company in the world has discovered they can clone history’s most influential people from the dead. Now, they are auctioning clones of Michelangelo, Galileo, Vivaldi, and others for tens of millions of dollars to the world’s ultra-rich. But when they steal the Shroud of Turin and clone the DNA of Jesus Christ, all hell breaks loose.
Director Nathan Frankowski (working with a script from Ed Alan) has a nutty plot with The Devil Conspiracy, although he strangely doesn’t seem interested in making the most of it. There’s nothing necessarily new about Heaven vs. Hell wars set in modern times, but here, a biotech company wildcard can bring back any historical figure from the dead using their DNA. The possibilities are endless with that added wrinkle, so it’s frustrating that The Devil Conspiracy is limited and generic in scope.
The previously mentioned scientists also double as a satanic cult with a plan to steal the Holy Shroud from The Cathedral of St. John in Italy, scheming to clone Jesus Christ as an offering to a resurrected Lucifer. Ages ago, Saint Michael, the Archangel, defeated Lucifer in battle and locked him away in the underworld, meaning that once the devil is sprung from solitary confinement, everyone will likely have to deal with the angelic warrior in some form. We are also treated to this as a prologue, complete with boring interpretations of these characters, visually and personality-wise
None of these villains are that interesting, either; there’s a standard mad scientist, a demonic older woman, and heaps of ghastly CGI beast creations horrendously lit and covered in darkness to cover up the poor effects (I didn’t expect much from the film in this department, but good Lord, the film needs to start up like a video game, prompting you to adjust the brightness slider settings until what’s happening on screen is visible, which is also fitting because so much of this movie is like a bad video game that doesn’t exist yet somehow got translated to the big screen.)
Also in Italy is American art student Laura (Alice Orr-Ewing), sketching various cathedral displays late into the night and long after guest hours with a personnel badge for a project. During this lights-out period, the Cathedral is under attack, with Fr. Marconi (Joe Doyle) dying while protecting her. However, before passing on, he says a prayer to Michael the Archangel, who then inhabits Marconi’s body, bringing him back to life to rescue Laura and take down the evildoers.
Admittedly, The Devil Conspiracy probably sounds gloriously loony (and some of the needle drops on the radio play into the ridiculousness on display), but it struggles to present this with excitement. It then falls into a tedious territory, taking almost his entire running time before turning Michael loose in battle. The story is also concerned with the satanic cult finding the right woman to impregnate Lucifer inside, which, unsurprisingly, is Laura. She also develops a genuine bond with the unborn baby, which is concerning. You could also read into some antiabortion rhetoric, especially given the overtly religious nature of the project, but honestly, the movie is far too dumb to even think about in that sense.
As such, the script brings up ideas and debates regarding what makes a person good or evil, occasionally taking itself too seriously. When the filmmakers realize how stupid and corny the whole concept is (like a demonic voice delivering a line about a woman’s water breaking), they conjure up an entertaining sequence here and there. Otherwise, The Devil Conspiracy plays like a bland action flick gutted by atrocious special effects. Apparently, there was no personal Jesus on set to ensure things turn out right.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com