“Is it really you–original gangsta?”
Does The Crow: Wicked Prayer (a.k.a. “The Crow 4”) really qualify as a retro movie? I say thee “yea.” Shot in 2003, and premiering two years later, it is a quintessential early 2000’s more-or-less-direct-to-video genre flick.
Playing out like a satanic episode of the Batman 1960s TV show, Wicked Prayer features Terminator 2‘s Edward Furlong in the title role & cackling, hammy guest-villain David Boreanaz as baddie Luc Crash.
Oh yes, and Tara Reid co-stars as Boreanaz’s clingy gangster moll. Like I said: quintessential early 2000’s.
The plot takes place against the backdrop of conflict between Native Americans and a mining community, as satanic cult murders ex-con Jimmy Cuervo & his girlfriend as part of a ritual. Jimmy comes back from the dead as (ta-da you guessed it!) The Crow to avenge his beloved’s death.
Two genre cult actors–Furlong & Boreanaz—playing enemies in a Crow film. Should have been cool. And sometimes it is.
And sometimes it’s excruciating to watch, as when Furlong keeps unconvincingly saying the same line about “perfect blue eyes” over and over, or when Boreanaz’s character presents a feast to his fellow satanists of “devilled ham, eggs, and devil’s food cake.” And let’s not even broach the subject of Dennis Hopper’s El Nino–a jive-talking pimp and warlock.
That said, Dennis Hopper plays a jive-talking pimp and warlock named El Nino, which is not as good as him playing King Koopa, but pretty good.
I mean: holy shit this stuff is GOLD!
The biggest problem with the film, its campiness aside, is that Boreanaz as Luc Crash is infinitely more interesting than Furlong as Jimmy Cuervo/Crow. It’s David’s movie. Had the roles been reversed, it might have worked better.
Furlong plays The Crow as anemic, pasty-faced (even before he dies), whining little shit. He doesn’t announce his lines with glorious theatrical menace as Brandon Lee did–instead, he mumbles them. He doesn’t pounce on the screen—he shuffles.
In contrast, Boreanaz is a ball of fire, and projects a real energy when he’s on the screen. (Very reminiscent of his hammy stints as “Evil Angel” on Buffy The Vampire Slayer.)
The Crow: Salvation (a.k.a. “The Crow 3”) might have been a little on the generic direct-to-video side, but at least through the earnest portrayal of the title character by Eric Mabius you had some flavor of what made the original film so special.
In contrast, I pair Wicked Prayer off with Ginger Snaps Back (a.k.a. “Ginger Snaps 3”) which was made around the same time, also features cutaways to medieval-looking drawings of the movie action on parchment, and was forced to be completed within a month. Unless really inspired, sequels made under such extremely tight deadlines tend to be a bit on the crappy side. (Though I do prefer Ginger Snaps Back to the relentlessly depressing Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed.)
In summary, Wicked Prayer is a really mixed bag. The story is thin, the editing is choppy, and the scripting cliche. But there are also some nicely composed shots that work with the film score and should satisfy the gothic in you. Like The Crow: City of Angels (a.k.a. “The Crow 2”), this film should be taken on the merits of some interesting set design & costuming and the histrionics of its main villain. Any resemblance to James O’Barr’s original spectral character is purely incidental.