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Grimmfest 2021 Film Feature - The Righteous

Directed by: Mark O'Brien

Written by: Mark O'Brien

Starring: Henry Czerny, Mark O'Brien, Mimi Kuzyk



Synopsis: A burdened man feels the wrath of a vengeful God after he and his wife are visited by a mysterious stranger...

Grimmfest say: A guilt-ridden former priest is confronted by a mysterious figure from his past, who seems to embody past transgressions. Is he the ex-priest's abandoned son as he initially claims, or is he something more supernatural, some walking embodiment of sin & death? Or is the whole situation largely in the protagonist's head? If Ingmar Bergman had ever directed a Southern Gothic home invasion movie, the end results might have turned out something like this. An intelligent, slow-burning, morally challenging meditation on sin, retribution and damnation, it keeps any sense of objective reality slippery and ambiguous, while exploring its philosophical and theological themes with impressive nuance. Beautifully played by a strong cast, and elegantly shot in crisp B&W, with a fine eye for framing and composition, and some mischievously symbolic imagery, it's a subtle, low-key, thought-provoking, and quietly unsettling film, building to an understatedly apocalyptic climax. A really impressive showing for writer-director-producer Mark O'Brien, who also plays the sinister stranger with chilling panache.

What I'm expecting: The Righteous isdescribed by Grimmfest as "a Southern Gothic home invasion movie" (in black and white no less!); a slow burner with subtlety about it and a subtext-laden psychological element. And, honestly, there's absolutely nothing about that that doesn't have me hugely excited. I love a good simmering-pot horror film: some of the very best horror films let you stew in uncertainty rather than throwing corpse after corpse at the screen in a vain attempt to shock its audience. The problem with movies like this is that pacing is difficult to balance: too slow, and the film is boring, too fast, and it doesn't have time to build suspense. This is the crucial issue, and it needs to be just right, or the film will suffer. What I'm most excited about, however, is the movie's use of a Gothic setting wrapped in the beauty and nostalgia of black and white film (as can be seen in the film's excellent poster). There simply aren't enough films like this around these days, and, hopefully, The Righteous will deliver a unique experience.



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