The Reverend (2011)

Stuart Brennan stars in a British take on the vampire comic book hero film, directed by Neil Jones. Metrodome UK R2 DVD

The Film

A young reverend (Stuart Brennan) moves into a small village, but his fate has already been decided by a mysterious meeting where a man in white agrees to hand over the life the reverend to a man dressed all in black. Attacked in his church by a seductress, The Reverend finds himself developing a blood thirst and attacks local hooligans at night.

Written by Neil Jones and billed as being based on an as yet unreleased graphic novel, The Revered certainly has a comic-book feel to it, with the generic character and location names ('the village', 'the estate', 'the reverend') and occasional monologue voice-overs from the main character. That would make this an origin story and like so many films based on origin stories, The Reverend just does not click. The opening is very promising with what appears to be a deal for the soul of the unnamed protagonist taking place between the Devil and God (who interestingly is surrounded by Protestant clerics), with the storyline subsequently repeatedly comparing this deal to the biblical tale of Job. Rather than persuing the idea of a high level battle for The Reverend's soul however, the film seems to change tack entirely moments later as the lead is bitten and turned into a vampire and after a surprisingly brief period of discovery, starts killing bad guys by dark. However, the vampire concept seems to be paper-thin with no reference at all to vampire-lore - he simply bites people, they become vampires, then he can stake them so they disappear into flames.

Perhaps in trying to keep with a graphic novel feel, there is only a small cast of characters, all of whom feel utterly stereotypical and pretty annoying - the wideboy landlord who 'owns the town', the nosey organist from the church, the violent pimp and his deep and suffering prostitute. There is an attempt to add a bent cop or two to the storyline as well but their scenes are so brief as to make them completely unnecessary and forgettable. As is progresses The Revered seems to simply lack direction and drags somewhat. The night time killings are only shown in the briefest detail, yet we get lengthy and slow paced coverage of The Reverend's attempts to look after a prostitute Tracey whom he has rescued. Perhaps again in an attempt to mimic comic-book stylings (although only in a rather dated way), there is no ambiguity in the characters, all are either good or evil and the hero seems to have no qualms about what he has done (except very briefly early on about killing a dog).

Despite the British setting, there is nothing distinctly Anglic about the storyline or the setting and it could easily have been set in the US - certainly despite the emphasis on the rural location, there is no attempt to capture the pastoral British horror themes of films like The Wicker Man (1973) and the presence of 'the estate' (which seems more like a nearby city) makes the whole village setting seem rather pointless. Eventually the whole biblical Job reference is completely forgotten as the film builds to an utterly daft climax, a contradictory conclusion and cuts off in a rather typical 'origin story' manner.

Behind the camera Neil Jones certainly makes the film look pretty decent with a solid if rather straight forward feel, certainly not trying the Frank Miller 'graphic novel' look. The gory scenes are surprisingly understated, very brief and mostly in the dark, fortunately eschewing any CGI usage. The music bizarrely overuses American guitar themes which seem completely out of place in the rural British setting (some misguided attempt to make the film feel like a Western perhaps).

Lead actor Stuart Brennan who has worked with Neil before does a decent job considering the material and is well suited to the character. Comedian and now soap actor Shane Richie is well cast in a short part as a violent pimp while British horror regular Emily Booth plays the prostitute Tracey well. Unfortunately despite their top billing, cult film stars Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner (1982)) and Giovanni Lombardo Radice (City of the Living Dead (1980)) only appear very briefly in the opening while Doug Bradley (Hellraiser (1988)) appears briefly in a couple more scenes.

A couple of interesting but completely undeveloped and underused ideas make The Reverend a rather disappointing film that had good potential based on the setting to be a dark modern-gothic horror. Production is solid and acting is generally fine, although the top billed cult stars only have the most cursory of cameo appearances. Skippable.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Brief cameo appearances from Rutger Hauer, Giovanni Lombardo Radice and a small part for Doug Bradley.
Directed by anyone interesting? Neil Jones - the second feature film for the British director who previously helmed a boxer biopic Risen (2010).
Any gore or violence ? Some bloodly biting scenes although they are relatively brief.
Any sex or nudity? Only very brief nudity, a short scene with violent sex.
Who is it for? Not generally recommendable.

Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colour.
The film was shot digitally so the transfer is flawless.
Audio English - 5.1 and 2.0 - both sound fine throughout.
Subtitles None
Extras The disc includes:
  • Behind the Scenes - typical promotional piece, with short interviews with Doug Bradley and Rutger Hauer - 13 minutes.
Region Region 2 (UK, Europe) - PAL
Other regions? Not otherwise available.
Cuts? Believed to be fully uncut. Print language is English.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 31st October 2012.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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