When we last saw Heaven Casteel (Annalise Basso), she was boarding a bus so that she could leave the backwoods of West Virginia and hopefully live with her mother’s wealthy family in Boston, Massachusetts.
Dark Angel picks up where Heaven left off, with Heaven arriving at stately and creepy Farthinggale Manor and discovering that the rich are just as fucked up as the poor. She’s greeted by her stepgrandfather, Tony Tatterton (Jason Priestly), who tries to come across as being friendly but quickly reveals himself to be cold and manipulative. She also meets her grandmother, Jillian (Kelly Rutherford). Jillian always has a drink in her hand and worries that Heaven will leave “hill grime” around the house. Jillian doesn’t want Heaven to stay at the house for too long but Tony manages to change her mind. Tony tells Heaven that, in order to thank him for his generosity, she’ll basically have to do everything that he says.
For instance, Tony tells Heaven that she is, under no circumstances, to enter the estate’s hedge maze. (Rich people always have a hedge maze.) So, of course, Heaven does just that. She gets lost but eventually, she comes across a small house sitting in the middle of the maze. Inside the house, a handsome man (played by Jason Cermak) carefully crafts a doll’s face.’
“Excuse me, sir,” Heaven says, “I got lost in your hedge maze!”
“You must be Heaven,” the man replies.
The man it turns out is Troy Tatterton, Tony’s younger brother. Troy suffers from depression and he’s been exiled to the maze because Jillian can’t stand the sound of dolls be made. Troy and Heaven soon find themselves falling in love, despite Tony’s demand that Heaven stay out of the maze.
Tony also demands that Heaven stop writing to her family but, of course, Heaven continues to try to reach out to them. Her siblings aren’t doing quite as well as Heaven. For instance, one sister is living in a trailer. Her brother is working at a circus. And her two youngest siblings are living in Washington, D.C, where they’re undoubtedly surrounded by politicians and interns. AGCK! It’s a fate worse than spending the rest of your life brewing moonshine in the hills.
And, while dealing with all of this, Heaven is also trying to graduate from high school and hopefully get into an Ivy League college! She wants to study literature. At one point, she explains that her favorite writer is Shakespeare but that she also really loves Fitzgerald. She says that Fitzgerland “saved the best for last,” with Tender Is The Night. It was at this point that I yelled, “HIS LAST NOVEL WAS THE LAST TYCOON!” and threw a shoe at the TV.
Complicating matters even further is the fact that her old backwoods boyfriend, Logan (James Rittinger), is attending college in Boston. Logan says that he doesn’t want anything to do with Heaven because he’s still angry over everything that happened during the previous movie but it’s pretty obvious that he’s still in love with her.
Well, listen — a lot happens in Dark Angel. As opposed to Heaven, Dark Angel is full of twists and turns. Everyone’s got a deep, dark secret and, at time, it gets a bit overwhelming trying to keep track of it all. Then again, that’s what makes a film like this fun. It’s just so over-the-top and implausible that you really can’t help but enjoy watching it all play out. Every few minutes, someone else is popping up and either taunting Heaven for being from the hills or revealing that they’re actually one of her relatives. Seriously, this is one messed up family. The good thing is that Dark Angel seems to be aware of how silly all of the melodrama occasionally is. The other good thing about Dark Angel is that it mostly involves rich people instead of poor people, which means that, as opposed to the first film, everyone gets to wear nice clothes.
Annalise Basso again makes all of us redheads proud in the role of Heaven but the film is really stolen by Jason Priestley, who appears to be having the time of his life playing the ambiguously evil Tony. Kelly Rutherford is a bit underused as Jillian but she does get one good scene towards the end of the film and she makes for a stylish drunk.
The sequel to Dark Angel, Fallen Hearts, will air on Lifetime later tonight and hopefully, I’ll have a review of it up on Sunday. And if I don’t, I guess you’ll just have to spank me like a character in a V.C. Andrews novel….