NEW TO THEATERS! Mark O’Brien reveals himself a drive to be reckoned with by starring, writing, producing, and directing the dramatic horror-thriller The Righteous. The younger man shows a filmmaking and storytelling dexterity far past his age, sustaining a agency stylistic grasp, effortlessly tackling hefty themes, and eliciting two magnificent performances from his leads. The talky, ponderous venture could verge on overwrought at occasions, however there’s no denying its cinematic advantage.
The plot facilities round a priest, Frederic Mason (Henry Czerny), and his spouse Ethel (Mimi Kuzyk), who’re recovering from a horrible tragedy. Frederic, particularly, undergoes a violent religious disaster, blaming God and praying for punishment. It arrives within the type of Aaron (O’Brien), a younger man who stumbles upon the Mason residence, seemingly out of nowhere, misplaced and disoriented. His foot is injured, and he’s presumptuous, overly inquisitive, with an eerie spark in his eye. Ethel doesn’t discover, totally gained over by the stranger.
Quickly sufficient, Aaron reveals his actual intentions to Frederic. To reveal them right here could be a disservice to the story. But, it’s secure to say it includes essentially the most morbid of requests, Aaron possessing supernatural skills, and Frederic’s darkish previous gushing out. His religious disaster manifests itself in a demonic face-off, whereby the priest has to make an unimaginable alternative. “I didn’t pray for this,” he cries in direction of the tip, “not like this!”
“…religious disaster manifests itself as a demonic face-off…”
“A sin won’t ever cancel out one other one,” one other priest tells Frederic. All through The Righteous, O’Brien explores heavy topics like penance, religious torment, mortality, and the perils of parenthood. He doesn’t draw back from visible metaphors: Frederic makes an attempt to disassemble the recollections that torture him by dismantling one thing of explicit poignancy within the yard. The movie is splendidly shot in stark black-and-white by cinematographer Scott McClellan, which immerses the proceedings in suffocating gloom n’ doom. The filmmaker’s cautious modulation of tone and rhythm, how steadily he reveals mysteries, and the mere reality that it is a dialogue/character-driven horror story make it onerous to consider that that is O’Brien’s feature-length debut.
Czerny is marvelous because the steadily unraveling Frederic, portraying a large gamut of feelings, each endearing and repelling. The movie serves as proof that the stalwart is one in all our most underrated actors and deserves extra display time. Kuzyk is equally great as somebody who finds redemption in a younger soul, preferring to suppress, substitute and ignore slightly than dwell. O’Brien retains up, though a few of Aaron’s monologues really feel overly scripted, and the actor rips into his personal phrases, emoting on all calibers. His efficiency approaches however doesn’t fairly tip over into ham-fisted.
However let’s minimize the person some slack, as he’s dealing with a slew of obligations right here, and does all of it nicely. “Watch out what you want for and be sure what you pray for,” a personality in The Righteous states. O’Brien will need to have wished and prayed for an insightful, disturbing, heartrending, borderline-Shakespearean movie that carries his identify. If that’s the case, he’s direct proof of God’s existence.