Directed by: Neil Jones
Starring: Stuart Brennan, Tamer Hassan, Simon Philips, Shane Ritchie, Emily Booth, Marcia Do Vales, Doug Bradley, Rutger Hauer
A young Reverend (Brennan) piques the interest of a shadowy figure called Withstander (Hauer), who makes a bargain with the Church to introduce him to true evil. Shortly after his first service, the reverend is visited by a beautiful young woman who suddenly attacks him, biting his throat. He survives the attack, but soon realises that there are...after-effects. Meanwhile, the reverend becomes more familiar with his congregation and wider community, and soon comes to realise that it is suffering under a wave of drugs, prostitution and violence, and decides to use his new-found bloodlust to good use.
The Reverend is an interesting independent horror which works for the most part, although some areas could use tightening up.
The film opens with a great prologue, as Withstander visits a high-ranking member of the Church. This is Rutger Hauer’s only scene, and you certainly couldn’t accuse him of “phoning it in” – he relishes in the dialogue, there’s a real twinkle in his eye as he delivers his lines. The scene also introduces us to the gorgeous Marcia do Vales, the slinky seductress sent to corrupt the reverend. Even though she is killed off early, Marcia turns up in a couple of impressive dream sequences where she appears as the reverend’s conscience.
The Reverend contains one of my pet peeves: over-use of voice-over narration. As the reverend comes round after his attack, we’re tortured with a lengthy description of how he’s feeling. It’s completely redundant, as Stuart Brennan is more than up to the task of conveying it through his performance.
The acting throughout The Reverend is very good and the film boasts a great cast. I have to admit on seeing Stuart Brennan, I immediately confused him with Martin Compston, star of Piggy. He has the same type of boyish face. Shane Ritchie has a great scene as vicious sleazy pimp, Prince, as he coerces his pro Tracey (Emily Booth) into going with a client who’d treated her roughly in the past. Ritchie plays it quite wide, all coked up twitchiness and barely repressed violence. Tamer Hassan is becoming a stalwart figure in UK independent horror flicks. Here he plays the local kingpin, intent on keeping his the consequences of his crime empire (drug users, prostitutes, burglars and muggers) out of the quaint village he lives in. Fans of Merantau may want to look out for Mads Koudal, who plays one of the bare knuckle fighters taking part in an underground boxing match towards the end of the film. And for the first time in a while, I really enjoyed seeing Doug Bradley who arrives at the end of the film to deliver probably the most interesting dialogue of the whole film.
Overall I enjoyed The Reverend, but felt it could have had its running time reduced to help the pacing. There are whole scenes of the reverend “doing stuff” such as making a cup of coffee in real time (fill the kettle, boil the kettle, etc) with no dramatic pay-off. And as I mentioned, the voice-over adds very little to the proceedings. However the acting is pretty good, the script comes alive at times and the gore fx are all real prosthetics and corn syrup.
7 out of 10 (MikeOutWest)