2/03/2017

God Told Me To (Review)

Title: God Told Me To
Writer/ Director:  Larry Cohen
Cast: Tony Lo Bianco, Deborah Raffin, Sandy Dennis, Sylvia Sidney, Sam Levene, Robert Drivas
 Year: 1976
Min: 91

A series of violent mass murders hits and terrorizes the residents of New York City. Before each of the killers get taken down or kill themselves, they all answer, when asked why, because, ''God told me to''. On the case is detective Peter J. Nicholas (Tony Lo Bianco), a deeply religious man. As such, he becomes obsessed with unraveling this case, which gets more wild and insane as the truth reveals itself.
One of the most interesting films from sometimes underrated horror filmmaker Larry (It's Alive, Q) Cohen, God Told Me To is a fascinating and wholly original mix of crime drama, horror, and science fiction. Moving at a slow and deliberate pace it builds up bit by bit, as it gets weirder and wilder. Throughout its running time, it remains a fascinating and intriguing bit of genre work by a sometimes overlooked master.
Cohen's script is smart and unlike any film that I can think of. It does a great job at looking at religion and the sometimes fanatical following that it has. It certainly comes off as bold and imaginative. The movie eventually becomes a total ''what the fuck?!" fest, as reveals more and more of its truths. Cohen's interest in police dramas may make some think it is a slow moving film. But, the movie never fails to capture the audiences interest.
Aside from the plot and  ever increasing weirdness level, Cohen also builds up tension in the action and suspense scenes. They are edited perfectly, with the opening sniper shooting in New York City at the film's start being a prime example of this. It's a scary and startling scene that grabs you by the throat. This is something that could happen (and has, just not in NYC, at least not that I know or recall). While, not exceptionally gory, it is violent with gun shots, stabbings, and throat slashings peppering the proceedings, all of which is done with that wonderfully bright red Dawn of the Dead 70's style of blood-letting.
The acting is excellent, especially from Tony Lo Bianco as the lead. He is believable and easy to get behind in his quest to unravel the truth. The fact that he is a man of faith makes it all the more interesting, as he faced with horrifying atrocities done in the name of the God he so loves and faithfully worships.

God Told Me To is an original and wild ride from one of the most talented and overlooked masters of fright. Cohen slowly builds the tension and shocking reality of the film's crazy plot ever so slowly. Questioning religion, faith, and the dangers of following it in a fanatical manner, the movie is as timely now as it was in the 70s, maybe more so. Coupled with excellent acting, especially from Lo Bianco, and a cool mix of genres, this is a film that needs to be seen by more. If you have never seen it be sure to check it out, as it is currently streaming on Shudder.

3.5 out of 4

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