Originally written for Flickering Myth.
Some films are great whilst others are terrible. Some are even so bad they are good, with their all-encompassing awfulness inspiring laughter. Then there are films like The Reverend. It means well, and you can tell that they really tried, but ultimately it falls short and is let down by some risible performances.
Stuart Brennan plays the title character (real name not provided), an idealistic young Reverend assigned to his first parish. Despite some questions over his youth, his new flock seems to take to him well. Things soon take a turn for the worse when he is visited late at night by a mysterious young woman. One bite later and The Reverend has gained a Wolverine-like healing factor, along with a thirst for blood. Of course he is a righteous man and the film deals with his use of his newfound power, as he takes it upon himself to clean up the village. A village that whilst appearing quiet and gentle has a seedy underbelly lead by local businessman Harold Hickman (Tamer Hassan).
Brennan comes off best of all the cast members as he attempts to imbue his character with some feeling. Starting out as a timid Reverend who has tea with old ladies, he tries to flesh out the character, becoming a more hardened killer looking to punish those who have sinned by the film’s end. To say the blame lies at his feet would be harsh, as the script doesn’t help him at all.
Moving on to the two biggest names in the cast; we have Rutger Hauer and Shane Richie. Now who would have thought these heavyweights of film and television would appear together? How did they have the budget for this? It’s quite simple – they are barely in it. Hauer in particular has picked up an easy pay cheque to provide a cameo and be a big name on marketing material rather than really add anything. He phones in his usual whispered and slightly threatening tone, whilst Richie provides us with what I can only describe as Alfie Moon on coke. They must have starved him before letting him on the set, since he desperately tries to chew the scenery with a range of squints, ticks and cursing, none of which is really effective.
Hassan’s main problem is that he should have picked one accent and stuck with it. Constantly flitting between cockney hard nut and country toff (sometimes in the same sentence) doesn’t do him any favours, and completely undermines any sort of menace his character should have. This affliction seems to have affected others in the film, with one character in particular moving between an American, English and Irish accent in one scene. I’d laugh if it weren’t so terrible.
The cast is rounded out with a variety of actors who, while clearly meaning well and trying, can’t act their way out of a paper bag. The Police Inspector in particular seems to have come from a particularly bad police training video, as he warns our protagonist to steer clear of the village’s nastier folk. Other characters are barely introduced before being offed in a particularly rubbish montage. It’s as though everyone suddenly realised that they needed a few more kills and had some characters lying around. Problem is, they are given so little time (we are merely told that they are ‘bad people’) that I just didn’t care.
Considering the film’s budget, the rather gruesome effects are pulled off pretty well, and the makeup team deserve some credit. But cameras that don’t know where they should be focusing and sound that is barely understandable at times make an already poor film more difficult to follow.
This leads us to this film’s main problem, which is its lack of focus. Is it a religious study? Is it a horror film? An action film maybe? Jones, who wrote, produced and directed needed some help here. To my mind he appears too close to the work and can’t see its flaws. If only someone had stepped in it could have been far tighter and been a lot better in at least one genre.
The story borrows heavily from The Book of Job (a book of the Hebrew Bible mentioned several times), which asks the question “why do the righteous suffer?”
The Reverend left me with one main thought. Why should the audience?