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AZRAEL (2024)

Release Date: 03/09/24 [Festival Run]
Genre: Action. Horror.

[Seen at SXSW Film Festival 2024]

"Many years following the apocalypse, a devout cult of mute zealots hunts down a young woman, Azrael, who has escaped her imprisonment. Recaptured by its ruthless leaders, Azrael is to be sacrificed to pacify an ancient evil that resides deep within the surrounding wilderness – yet she will stop at nothing to ensure her own survival. In what follows, Azrael makes a savage bid for freedom as her escape accelerates towards a vicious, revenge-fueled showdown." 


Directed by E.L. Katz and born from Simon Barrett's fever dream of a script, Azrael unfurls as a post-apocalyptic nightmare soaked in blood, cutting through conventions like a relentless heavy metal riff. Lasting 85 minutes, the film unleashes a revenge-fueled, violent-horror onslaught that is not only rich and rewarding but also thought-provoking and relentless.


Azrael uniquely challenges mainstream audiences by unfolding its narrative entirely without dialogue, leaving viewers without traditional cues for guidance. This choice, while seemingly isolating, actually breaks down linguistic obstacles and unites an international audience. Although numerous films have experimented with non-verbal storytelling, few have committed to it as thoroughly as Azrael. Unlike films such as A Quiet Place, which employ non-verbal storytelling selectively, Azrael embraces this approach throughout, boldly maintaining its silence where other films might tap out, refusing to compromise for fear of alienating viewers. Barrett and Katz tap into a rich tapestry of influences, embedding the essence of silent cinema and mixing it with the unsettling vibes of obscure art-house genre films and the narrative depth typical of Eastern European filmmaking. The absence of dialogue is just one aspect of the challenge in crafting a genre film of this caliber.


Samara Weaving, the modern scream queen, lends a formidable presence with another hard-hitting performance as the film's self-titled protagonist, Azrael. She embodies the role with determination and unwavering resolve, reflecting the character's sheer tenacity. Without revealing too much, the narrative unfolds as Azrael and her lover escape from a cult community of mute zealots in a post-apocalyptic world. The subsequent events thrust her onto a path of revenge and survival that, despite its horrific, terrifying, and violent nature, is visually stunning due to Mart Taniel's exceptional cinematography. Azrael carves her way toward her objectives with a ferocity that is both breathtaking and chilling, adding a raw, visceral layer to her journey. Adding to the film's unique atmosphere is the score by Tóti Guðnason, which not only amplifies the apocalyptic setting and tone but also drives the narrative forward.


In Azrael, Simon Barrett and E.L. Katz not only capture the essence of a post-apocalyptic nightmare but also craft a narrative that resonates with themes of defiance and survival, mirroring the relentless, heavy metal spirit we're introduced to at the outset. This seamless blend of art-house aesthetics with visceral, thrilling action marks the film as not just visually stunning but also deeply engaging. With a merciless grip, Azrael ascends to its place as one of the year’s most unforgettable films and a behemoth among this year’s horror offerings.

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