Review: In '36 Saints,' Armageddon isn't what it's cracked up to be

The world has ended so many times this summer that the apocalypse has lost all meaning. But the Catholic-themed kill-a-thon "36 Saints" puts forth an especially hollow Armageddon, in which the final battle between good and evil is as flavorless and thinly structured as a Communion wafer.

In a prologue that recalls the History Channel's UFO specials, director Eddy Duran employs voiceover to explain that 36 exceptionally kind people are born in every generation. But should all 36 be murdered, a demon will annihilate the human race. OK, sure.

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Though snuffing out a handful of octogenarians would be much easier and less conspicuous, genre conventions demand that it's a group of teenagers — whether they're in high school or college is frustratingly unclear — who must be sacrificed. An altar boy-turned-Manhattan detective (Franky G) discovers the demon's serial-killing plans and attempts to save the saints not yet martyred. As it happens, all the would-be victims attend the Spanglish-sounding Academy of Royals, an institution not unlike the X-Men's School for Gifted Youngsters, if their mutant power was niceness.

With a script from Jeffrey De Serrano and Joey Dedio (who costars and produces), the bloodletting is blandly demure and the identity of the malefactor telegraphed too early. Viewers should resign themselves to this amateurish effort's few assets: a rare fusion of urban noir and Latin Gothic, a splendidly diverse cast and star Britne Oldford ("American Horror Story"), whose prayers for better projects deserve to be answered.


"36 Saints"

MPAA rating: R for violence

Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes

Playing: TCL Chinese 6 Theatres, Hollywood; the Regency Van Nuys Plant 16; Bianchi Theater, Paramount; Krikorian Pico Rivera Village Walk 15.


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