Fallen is a supernatural murder/mystery film about a serial-killing, game-playing demon that targets a police detective. The film was released January 16, 1998.
Homicide detective John Hobbes has finally brought to justice the notorious serial killer Edgar Reese. Hobbes witnesses Reese’s execution and believes he has closed the books on the murder cases.
Soon after, the detective and his partner, Jonesy, begin their investigation into a string of copycat killings that appear to be modeled after the Reese killings. Through a series of hints left to him by Reese and found at the sites of the copycat killings, Hobbes tracks down a mysterious woman named Gretta Milano.
Years prior to the Reese killings, Gretta’s father, who was also a homicide detective, supposedly killed himself after accusations of murder began to pile up against him. Gretta refuses to answer anymore questions and warns Hobbes about investigating any deeper into Reese or her father’s past.
Not heeding her warnings, Hobbes discovers the location of Gretta’s family lake house and makes the journey to further his investigation. Hidden in the basement of the cabin, written on the wall and painted over, Hobbes discovers a name: AZAZEL.
Hobbes returns to Gretta and presses her for information. She reveals that Azazel is the name of a demon: a fallen angel that is formless and forced to inhabit the bodies of the living like a parasite. Hobbes realizes that Edgar Reese was not himself when he committed the murders, but was possessed by the demon.
Hobbes further learns that while extremely powerful, the life and power of the demon are based on rules and thus limited. Azazel, when leaving a human host or forcibly departed from a host via death, has only a certain amount of distance that can be travelled, or “breath” before he expires and dies.
Learning that Hobbes is inquiring into his nature, Azazel confronts Hobbes at his police precinct and warns him to “fear my wrath.”Azazel then begins a campaign against Hobbes, possessing an innocent school teacher. Via the teacher, Azazel assaults and forces Hobbes to kill the man in self defence. An investigation into the incident is opened against the detective and while active, the demon inhabits other ‘witnesses’ and gives false testimony against Hobbes. Hobbes is gradually framed for the killing.
To further provoke the detective, the demon attacks his brother and nephew, eventually claiming the life of Hobbes’ brother and simultaneously framing Hobbes for the death of his brother.
Feeling the walls close in, Hobbes gives his nephew to Gretta with instructions to hide and never reveal to anyone where they might go. Meanwhile Hobbes devises a plan to combat the demon and heads back out to Gretta’s lake house.
Drawing the demon out, Hobbes kills the investigators sent to arrest him, including his partner, Jonesy. While Jonesy dies, inhabited by Azazel, Hobbes smokes cigarettes that are laced with the same fast-acting poison that the demon utilized in so many of his murders. Hobbes dies, and with no remaining hosts, it seems that Azazel will finally face defeat and death.
In the final moments of the film it is revealed that there is a cat living under the cabin that Azazel possesses. Avoiding a close brush with death and ultimately emerging victorious, the demon walks off into the night.
- If we were to consider the phenomena of demonic possession as legitimate, how will we reinterpret historical and religious documents and accounts? How will the modern day phenomena of possession be reinterpreted?
- Why does the demon target detective Hobbes? What is the goal of the demon?
- When the demon begins to attack Hobbes, what are its tactics? What other entities in our world emulate these same tactics?
- Given the trouble and risk detective Hobbes has to endure to simply ascertain the name of the demon–Azazel–what does this suggest about the power inherent in a name? How does this same implication of power apply to the nature of secret societies, intelligence communities, information networks, etc.?
- What is the relationship between demons and games?
- Hobbes is a police detective who witnesses events on a regular basis that make it “difficult to believe in God.” Yet, it is a force of great evil that he is confronted with; an evil that reshapes his view and interpretation of the workings of the universe. When does the hard world of physical realtiy slide into the bitter battle of spirituality? What are the boundaries of empiricism when it comes to describing the nature of the universe?
- What does this narrative suggest about the power the nature of knowledge and secrets, the concept that “more is hidden than is seen?” Why is some knowledge kept secret?
- How does the nature of Azazel, and demons in general, tie into the concept of higher dimensions as posed by Rob Bryanton? What other social narratives can we attribute or correlate with the nature of demons?
- Is Azazel a “reptillian?”