Today I watched Larry Cohen’s God Told Me To (1976)
Once again showcasing the city of New York and once again showing it gripped in fear. God told me to are the last words on the mouths of numerous spree killers who begin to crop up in the city randomly. Tony Lo Bianco plays Detective Nicholas who is at the scene of the first killer, a sniper, who says those words before jumping to his death. Nicholas continues to follow up on these killings and finds a strange connection, they all met with a mysterious person who no one can give a proper description of. As all investigations of this kind, it is not long until Nicholas is finding answers to secrets perhaps best left unanswered.
As the name implies, this film is highly critical of religious thought, especially the bloodier and less humanist aspects of Abrahamic religions. While the narrative is at first quite mysterious and cryptic, as the film progresses it really dives into it’s sacrilegious subject matter with gusto. The film really ramps up the craziness at it reaches the finale yet it begins n a very grounded and realistic manner. Once again Cohen shows himself to be a master of blending and transitioning through very different moods as the slow change from religiously charged detective thriller to full on horror movie felt completely natural and smooth.
While this film certainly has a style to it and while it goes to some pretty ridiculous places, the film makes all of that into little more than a backdrop for some powerful performances which really present the subject matter in an understandable and human manner. Tony Lo Bianco as the star is really the standout here and presents the angst of decaying faith with powerful subtlety. Despite how crazy this film can get, it really showcases the power of subtlety and how it can be used to amplify the unreal elements of a story and ground them in some level of reality. 5/5