THE HERETICS (2017)
Creepy flick finds a pretty young woman named Gloria (Nina Kiri) kidnapped by a cult for some sort of ceremony. They commit mass suicide leaving Gloria a blood spattered survivor. Five years later she’s still haunted by the events, living with her mother, Ruth (Nina Richmond) and going to group therapy where she’s met her girlfriend Joan (Jorja Cadence). Just when she thinks things might be getting better, she’s kidnapped by Thomas (Ry Barrett) a former cult member who claims he’s trying to save her. He warns her that not all the cult members are dead and she is key to the birth of their deity. While Joan and Ruth begin to search for her, Gloria begins a horrifying transformation in a secluded cabin that no one may be able to save her from.
Horror is written and directed by Chad Archibald (Bite, Ejecta) from a story by Jayme Laforest. As illustrated by his work in Bite, Archibald can come up with some creepy and disturbing stuff and does so again here. He seems to have a penchant for body horror, as captive Gloria begins to transform before would-be savior Thomas’ eyes. The second half of the movie especially has some unsettling stuff, as cult members resurface and an unearthly ceremony begins again. The cabin in the woods setting is a much used trope, but Archibald gets good use out of it and shows he has a very effective visual style, too. There are some very unsettling scenes here, and there are also a few surprises and reveals as characters are not who they seem and flashbacks fill us in on more details of what happened to Gloria five years ago. It’s a spooky and atmospheric flick that provides some memorable images and a few shocking moments. It also has some violent and gory scenes and the FX portraying them are well done. It’s not perfect. We can see a few things coming and lead Nina Kiri is sadly reduced to a damsel in distress in the second half where earlier on she seemed like she was capable of giving the character some depth. Too bad, Gloria seems to sit on the sidelines during a time when her character is proving crucial. That aside, this is an effective horror from filmmaker Chad Archibald.
The cast was on point for the most part. Lead Nina Kiri was good at portraying an emotionally damaged young woman trying to heal from a horrific experience. She gives Gloria a sense of tragedy when her transformation starts and it’s too bad she isn’t given much to do in the second half, but sit in a chair and looked hurt and bewildered. Ry Barret is somewhat likable as the ex-cultist who fell for the victim. He gives Thomas a sense of inner pain and torment and a touch of nobility. He also remains a tad creepy and that works in the context of the story. Jorja Cadence is the real show stealer. Her Joan seems like a strong, determined woman at the start, but certain revelations about her take the character to a whole new level and the actress is up for the task. She plays it well and avoids camp or going over-the-top. Rounding out is Nina Richmond, who is solid as Gloria’s caring and concerned mother.
Overall, this was a very creepy and effective flick from a director who is showing some potential both atmospherically and visually. He has a feel for body horror and uses it effectively as his last two films dealt with physical transformation. He has a good visual eye and was able to use some familiar tropes effectively. Aside from a few issues, this was an unsettling horror and makes for a spooky night on the couch.
Rated 3 (out of 4) pairs of antlers, perfect for that cult ceremony mask you always wanted.
The Heretics is an interesting looking upcoming occult horror directed by Chad Archibald (Bite) from a script by Bite scribe Jayme LaForest. The spooky looking flick now has a trailer and poster to intrigue us, though no U.S. release date as of yet. It does look like it has some creepy potential. Right now it’s making the rounds at festivals and hopefully this Canadian chiller finds a distributor soon!
source: Youtube/ Arrow in the head.com
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This Sci-Fi thriller is written by Tony Burgess, who wrote the book the film Pontypool was based on, and tells the story of William Cassidy (Julian Richings) who allegedly had an encounter with extraterrestrials 39 years earlier and hasn’t lived in peace since. He asks amateur filmmaker and conspiracy theorist Joe Sullivan (Adam Seybold) to come to his secluded home, on the eve of a historic sun storm, to document his story. Nothing can prepare either of them, though, as the solar storm brings not only the return of William’s alien abductors, but a sinister government organization that will go to any lengths to find out what William knows.
As directed by the pair of Chad Archibald and Matt Wiele, Ejecta is a film filled with a lot of interesting ideas that are not quite successfully carried out in the execution. The story opens with Cassidy’s abduction by the unnamed government organization and brought before the ruthless Dr. Tobin (Lisa Houle) for interrogation and torture. The footage shot by Sullivan detailing what happened during the night, is intercut with Cassidy’s incarceration as we and Dr. Tobin slowly review the footage to see the evening’s events unfold. It gives the film an odd fractured narrative as we cut back and forth with the found footage format serving as flashbacks and the cameras of soldiers on the scene with the straight forward style for the lab interrogation. The film also takes a while before it really gets interesting, but there are some spooky sequences in the found footage flashbacks and some surprising gory violence in it’s last act. The interrogation stuff is less effective as Tobin comes across as some cheesy movie villain just short of rubbing her hands together and maniacally cackling as she gleefully tells Cassidy of what horror she has in store for him. It takes what is supposed to be a serious thriller and brings it down a few notches as the character and the actress’ overacting make Tobin more of a stereotypical movie villain who seems unnecessarily cruel. It strips away the realism as does the character’s more outlandish torture methods and habit of killing her own people when not satisfied. It’s corny and cliché when the rest of the film is trying to be believable and interesting. On a production level, the film looks good on what was probably a modest budget and the FX work is very well done with some surprising and effective bloodshed at times.
Aside from the over-acting from Houle, Richings is effective as Cassidy. He’s plays a man who has been tormented for decades in seclusion from what he has experienced, only to have it return and then be tortured by his own kind to be given the details. He does evoke sympathy and gives the appearance of a haunted man. Adam Seybold is fine as the conspiracy theorist Sullivan, who jumps at the chance to meet Cassidy and get the truth he believes exists. His part is smaller, but he does fine as a young man who gets more than he bargained for. There are also a bunch of supporting scientists and soldier types who are all adequate in their parts.
To wrap it up, Ejecta is an interesting and sometimes spooky mixed bag. While it’s flashback found footage scenes work well and provide most of the chills, it’s sequences of torment and interrogation fall short due to an overacting and very over-the-top, cliché villain. There are some interesting ideas throughout and there are a few surprises, secrets revealed and gruesome moments, too, especially in it’s last act. Worth a look, but not quite what it had the potential to be.
2 and 1/2 haunted abductees.