One look at the DVD cover art for this film and I somewhat had an idea of what to expect. A science fiction B movie that would have made Roger Corman smile with delight, and surprise surprise, that is exactly what we get with Agency of Vengeance: Dark Rising. This is actually the sequel to an earlier film Dark Rising: Bring Your Battle Axe. It isn’t necessary to watch the previous film to enjoy Agency of Vengeance. The film jumps into the action as we see a group of Rising Dark agents pursuing a large sandworm that is tearing up the streets of a suburban neighborhood. Leading the group is Jason (Landy Cannon), who never seems to stop with the wisecracks from the moment he first opens his mouth to the final credits of the film. The pursuit of the sandworm takes them straight to a park where it just so happens Jason’s ex-girlfriend is getting married. As for Jason’s ex, well, she’s far from the damsel in distress; in fact Summer (Brigitte Kingsley) is also an agent with the Rising Dark agency.
When we get a reveal of the giant sandworm that interrupts the wedding, we get the reveal of the CGI monster that unfortunately looks too cartoonish to ever appear threatening.
Back at the headquarters it is made clear to all the agents that there has been a spike in supernatural activity, and it seems to be pointing to Mordock, a demon God that with enough power is capable of destroying the world. Jason believes that there is a connection between the supernatural attacks and something that is perhaps after Summer.
Not even half ay through the film the one thing that I found so distracting that it just about ruins the film is that every single character seems to attempt to have something witty to say. I can handle the poor CGI and the ridiculous plot, but the over-the-top attempts at humor are just frustrating. Clearly the writer and director Andrew Cymek is a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, to the point that the Rising Dark agency seems very similar to the special ops group that we saw in Buffy. I have no issue with taking that inspiration and direction, because in fact that is a fun route to go, but to also make these characters all sound like open-mic-night comedians waters down what could have been some solid character development.
What plays in favor of the film are the villains. Sure, we should be a little more excited when the time comes and we see Mordock, but it is “Mister X” I found to be the most fun. I don’t want to reveal too much about the character, but I dug his CGI weapons of choice. As for the reveal for who Mister X is working for, this is one of the stronger points of the film and gives us a villain that we can also sympathize with, that is until they too begin to attack our heroes with witty comments.
As the film comes to a close it sets itself up nicely for further installments for the Rising Dark agents. I’m open to the idea of what can happen next with these characters and possible demons and villains we may get to see in the future. I just hope that perhaps the screenplay can be toned down so we can at least have some dramatic moments with these characters. Andrew Cymek shows a lot of promise as a director and is fully capable of delivering a fun B picture that can develop a strong cult following; hopefully the next picture is another step in the right direction.