THE HERETICS *** Canada 2017 Dir: Chad Archibald. 87 mins
Canadian filmmaker Chad Archibald, who made THE DROWNSMAN and BITE (and wrote the ANTISOCIAL movies) has crafted a beguiling take on familiar territory. LET HER OUT’s Nina Kiri is excellent as a young woman haunted by nightmares of ritualistic sacrifices originating from the religious cult she escaped.
When she is abducted by one of the cult’s members, her abuse-victim girlfriend (Jorja Cadence), who believes in violent retribution, sets out to get her back via any means necessary. This creepy, well-acted movie effectively blurs nightmares and hallucinations with flashbacks while refreshingly centered around a sympathetic same-sex couple and a kidnapper who proves even more of a victim of the cult’s oppression than the heroine. The narrative takes multiple twists and turns as early hints at horned beasts in darkened rooms are superseded by Kiri’s grotesque physical transformation, reinforcing Archibald’s fondness for gruesome body horror. At its best, it captures the sinister ambience of 1970’s American occult horror, even if some of the dialogue is a little too on the nose (“You don’t need to doubt, Thomas”) and the admirably self-serious approach invites unintended mirth at times. Archibald, who sustains an ominous ambience that suggests no outcome will be happy in the face of an all-powerful adversary, has the courage of his convictions and follows through with a truly impressive final image.
Review by Steven West