THE RIGHTEOUS (2021)

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The Righteous BluRay

THE RIGHTEOUS (2021)
Written and Directed by Mark O’Brien
Available on Arrow Video Blu-Ray

Former priest Frederik (Henry Czerny) and his wife Ethel (Mimi Kuzyk) are grieving after the sudden loss of their young daughter when they find an injured man named Aaron (Mark O’Brien) in their garden during the night. Aaron raises suspicion with his lack of answers to their questions about how he hurt his leg and what he was doing out at night alone in the woodlands. Despite this, the couple allow him to stay on the sofa overnight until morning. Frederik and Ethel plan to find Aaron help at the earliest opportunity but it isn’t long before their house guest wins over his hosts, causing him to prolong his stay. However, the longer he co-habits with the grieving couple, the more intense the situation becomes as some secrets from Frederik’s past are unearthed, ones which he’d rather have left behind.

Character-driven movie THE RIGHTEOUS is a black and white drama that drills into the guilt and weakness of human nature, exposing it for all to see. Focusing on just three main characters, with a couple more actors involved in supporting roles, it’s quite the intimate affair. The small production creates a suffocating experience, especially when one of the characters, Aaron, provides the mystery and intrigue with his presence seemingly malevolent though his enigmatic personality makes him a hard character to read. Could a bloodbath be awaiting the couple or does Aaron have other sinister plans? Perhaps Aaron isn’t a threat at all and his presence is a gift from God to help them get over the loss of their little girl.

THE RIGHTEOUS slowly uncoils but surprises along the way as it shows its hand earlier than anticipated. Though I was initially expecting it to be a more physically impactful movie through actions rather than words, I was fascinated by Aaron’s presence on the couple and how it affects them as a person and their relationship.

Without a doubt, Aaron’s appearance is the catalyst that drives Frederik to the end of his tether, though in a way he’s asked for it by making up excuses that Aaron is his nephew the night he discovers him in their yard. He could have easily shopped in the young man to the police but clearly saw an opportunity within Aaron for him to redeem himself somehow, or at least face and confront the guilt of his past, that which drove him away from the church ten years prior. The way in which Frederik starts to come apart is hard to tear your eyes away from thanks to Henry Czerny’s performance as the fractured soul. Once he starts to unravel, he’s unable to stop.

Mark O’Brien is brilliant as the stranger with a purpose, his quiet intensity unnerving both Frederik and the viewer. There’s more to Aaron than meets the eye and as he starts to lay down some home truths to Frederik, the line blurs between what is real, what is not and whether this is all just penance for Frederik to atone for his past mistakes.

The more you watch, the more you discover about the characters and their history. Nothing is quite what it appears on the surface and we get to understand why Frederik is struggling and what made him leave the church in the first place.

As his debut feature film which he penned and directed, O’Brien shows that he has the gift of storytelling by creating a sense of intrigue, though it’s his role as Aaron that outwardly impresses, showcasing his experience in the field of performance. As the tension builds to palpable levels, you begin to wonder what will become of the characters as a result but it seems whatever direction it goes in, the characters are on a path they’re unable to escape.

Rating: ★★★★★★½☆☆☆

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS

• High Definition (1080p) Blu-rayTM presentation
• Original 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• Brand new audio commentary by writer, director and actor Mark O’Brien and editor Spencer Jones
• Cast and crew interviews with writer/director/actor Mark O’Brien, producer Mark O’Neill, actors Henry Czerny, Mimi Kuzyk, and Kate Corbett, editor Spencer Jones, cinematographer Scott McClellan, and production designer Jason Clarke
• Roundtable discussion with Mark O’Brien and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett and Chad Villella of Radio Silence
• Stage Presentation and Q&A with Mark O’Brien and Henry Czerny from the World Premier at Fantasia International Film Festival 2021
• Grimmfest 2021 live-streamed Q&A with Mark O’Brien
• Original soundtrack
• Image gallery, accompanied by the film’s original score by Andrew Staniland
• Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Grant Boland and Oink Creative

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Fully illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Sean Hogan

About Bat 8114 Articles
I love practical effects, stop-motion animation and gore, but most of all I love a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. Currently playing: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Yakuza Zero and Webbed.

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