Azrael Review

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Samara Weaving is the one having a face for a silent film. Her large, expressive eyes and mouth may sometimes be enough to fill pages and pages of dialogue which makes her the perfect casting for Azrael. By E.L. Katz – a horror specialist whose credits include episodes of Channel Zero and The Haunting of Bly Manor as well as 2013′s Cheap Thrills – and written by Simon Barrett, screenwriter for You’re Next and The Guest, this is a highly creative as well as thrilling action/horror hybrid that is in spirit if not in letter, a silent movie.

There’s very little dialogue, what there is isn’t even in English (‘fraid not; no subtitles either) but in another language completely. The film takes place in an alternate post-apocalyptic world where the Rapture has already come to pass and “among the survivors, some are driven to renounce their sin of Speech,” reads an opening title card. Azrael (Weaving) is one such survivor who lives deep within a religious commune in the forest where all members cut out their tongues so they could never break their vow of silence.

However, the cult Betrayed Azrael together with her friend Kenan (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett), excommunicating them to serve as sacrifices to the monstrous “Burned Men” who haunt their settlement on its outskirts. The creatures look like burnt space aliens who walk like hungry zombies so it’s not apparent at first what they are or from where they came or why they are drawn here. (Some will be answered before the end but others won’t). What we do know about these beasts however is that they’re very dangerous – moments when a Burned Man catches up with just any ordinary passerby happen quickly, edited with violence and showcase shots of special effects blood prosthetics being torn apart by caveman teeth.

No spoilers but Azrael gets away. From that point on Weaving goes off like a shot, setting up an unstoppable momentum which carries the film through to its conclusion. For the rest of the movie, she is constantly moving, her body no longer as animated as her face was in those early close-ups. She returns to the camp in search of revenge, prompting a back-and-forth that will see Azrael fighting against multiple attempts on her life.

After this, came one thrilling action set piece after another for Azrael. Standouts include Weaving swinging upside down from a tree by one ankle, wriggling through an underground tunnel chased by a Burned man, and spitting blood after tearing out a foe’s jugular with her teeth. Sounds of gasping and grunting but not shouting; at one moment a member of the cult screams but only produces wheezing sounds. The score is responsible for creating tension without overpowering the sound effects provided by Joker arranger Tóti Guðnason: In the absence of words, the breeze rustling leaves and knives swishing through space have become particularly pronounced.

Barrett’s screenplays are good at blending together genre elements into something new and fresh. There are moments in Azrael that allude to such movies as The Village, It Follows, A Quiet Place (those silent last days seem inadequate for this set up), Kill Bill: Volume 2, and Mad Max: Fury Road with a fire-and-brimstone twist. Combining Katz’s energetic direction and boundless energy of Weaving – between this film and Ready or Not she has had a rough time – it is a sure winner.

Azrael demands some faith from the audience to engage with it. The script gradually sheds light on our main character’s background and her world through context, yet many questions remain unanswered even after the end credits have rolled. It takes you as an intelligent viewer who will solve puzzles by themselves thereby infuriating YouTube pedants. (Well). This story moves on by blind instinct; it keeps going forward just like its protagonist who thinks about only one thing “Keep moving, or die.”


In Azrael, Samara Weaving plays a mute outcast involved in post-apocalyptic cults, this is Simon Barrett (You’re Next), a scripted folk meets survivalist horror film directed by E.L. Katz(Cheap Thrills). Most of its mythos remain occulted while focusing on progressing ahead at breathtaking speed and gory exciting action sequences. Her expressive face along with boundless energy makes Weaving an irresistible heroine whose determination never ceases to exist amid death doings.

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