The Reverend (2011)
(18) Running time: 93 minutes
Director: Neil Jones
Writer: Neil Jones
Starring: Stuart Brennan, Tamer Hassan, Emily Booth, Shane Ritchie, Rutger Hauer, Doug Bradley
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
The Reverend is based on a graphic novel, and comes off as a sort of vampire flick crossed with a dark superhero film, and at times it really works. Stuart Brennan stars as The Reverend, and gives a truly brilliant performance as the quiet, and quite shy new Reverend in a small, apparently quiet rural village. He has been sent to take over the local Parish as his first job, and is keen to make an impression, however things go horribly wrong on his first night of meeting the locals.
After giving a sermon, the locals head off home, happy with their new reverend, and the man himself looks happy and pleased with a job well done. As he relaxes, a sexy young woman, soaked through from the rain, runs into the parish looking for help. She barely says a word, and instead bites the Reverend on the neck causing him to pass out. The next day he is a changed man, he is no longer a simple Reverend, but is now some sort of super vampire Reverend, but it takes him a while to figure out his powers.
The film then ticks along at a fairly slow pace as The Reverend begins a study of vampires to find out exactly what may have happened to him, and eventually his search leads him to the local pub and a private club for horror fans. The club is hosted by local prostitute and all round stunner Tracy (the deliciously sexy Emily Booth), and here fans watch horror films while enjoying a pint. Naturally The Reverend joins in, and a blossoming friendship is born between Holy Man and Whore, and as expected it brings some unwelcome looks in the pub. Once The Reverend meets Tracy’s violent, coke snorting pimp Prince (Shane Ritchie in gloriously over the top form), he soon realises what he must do with his new ‘gift’: rid the village and its neighbouring town, of thugs, and so begins his mission.
The Reverend takes a while to really get going, and while the cast all do a pretty decent job, the budget and skills of the director are clearly tested in places. The story should have opened up the film to some really excellent revenge situations, but sadly a midpoint high involving Tracy, her pimp and a disgusting brute known as Big Bazza, is never topped. During this high point, The Reverend learns of his powers and plenty of very well choreographed violence breaks out. We also get to see Booth in various revealing outfits! It was at this point that I began to believe in The Reverend, and I had high hopes for the film’s final third. Sadly, good as the final third is, it did seem to struggle and felt a bit stretched. The middle suggested that the director had some cool tricks up his sleeve to share with us later on, and had the film continued on its upward path, then The Reverend would have been amazing, but all the ideas were quickly used up.
While both Booth and Brennan are great in their roles, it must be noted that those hoping to see much from Rutger Hauer or Doug Bradley will be sorely upset. Both appear in blink and you’ll miss them cameos. Tamer Hassan plays his usual self, but seeing his nasty gangster dressed in posh country clothes is actually very funny indeed, and gives his character a little more depth than what usually comes from the actor. However, this is Brennan’s show, and to be honest, he holds it together very well indeed and make something totally believable out of his Reverend. He is no Neo from The Matrix finding his superpowers, but instead The Reverend is a pleasant, calm individual who you will be rooting for, and when he does find his powers you will want to see more of them.
Things are left open for a sequel, and I for one would like to see it happen on a much bigger scale. The Reverend is a good starting point, but the film did leave me wanting more, a lot more, and sadly because of that I felt quite let down by it. There are plenty of high points: the odd bit of violence, Hassan in full on country gear, Emily Booth simply being in it, and Brennan’s performance, but the undeniable feeling that The Reverend could have been so much better lingers all over the film, and left me feeling a little unsatisfied.