TABERNACLE 101 * Australia 2019 Dir: Colm O’Murchu. 98 mins
Frank (David Hov) is an atheist with a big online following. His vlog focusses on debunking mediums, psychics, and other religious and spiritual beliefs. To prove once-and-for-all that there is no afterlife, he participates in a deadly experiment. As he’s brought back to the world of the living, he realizes with help from psychic Meredith (Mikaela Franco), that he’s opened a door between our world and a demonic realm.
TABERNACLE 101 is a film that leaves no mystical stone unturned. What the movie delivers in the first act (haunted camp sites, demonic tattoos, and ghostly visions) feels like a good old-fashioned, “I came back from the dead and brought evil with me” horror story. But it quickly turns into a convoluted mess. “Light Beings” from another plane of existence, Frank developing the ability to cure ovarian cancer, and demons using the dark web to wipe out humanity are plot twists that are at best unexpected and at worst completely baffling.
Because they’ve shoehorned so much into the film, Meredith needs to know a jarring amount about the Light Beings and Frank’s possession and new powers—there’s just no room for the story to naturally progress. The relationships feel underdeveloped, and the scares get completely lost. There is so much story happening that, as a viewer, you’re never given an opportunity to come up for air.
So, although TABERNACLE 101 definitely pulls out every supernatural stop, it falls short for the very same reason.
Review by Julia Lynch