The Reverend (18)
Populated by immediately identifiable mainstays of fantasy cinema – Rutger Hauer, Doug Bradley, Emily Booth – and shot through with enthusiasm for the genre, The Reverend takes a horror staple – vampirism – and attempts (not altogether successfully) to turn it into something deeper and more meaningful.
Simon Brennan is the minister sent to a Welsh backwater who unwittingly becomes the pawn in a game of one-upmanship between the Devil (Hauer providing a brief cameo) and the Almighty (Giovanni Lombardo Radice).
The young reverend soon finds that all is not well in his new home. Visited in the night by a foxy babe who bites him, he wakes possessed of new powers. Yet whilst traditional vamps chew their way through the local populace, the unnamed man of God decides to use his condition as a force for good.
Soon he’s cleaning up the local pub and a vicious pimp (a revelatory Shane Richie) who controls Tracy (Booth), the town’s resident hooker.
One of the myriad micro-budget films on the UK circuit at present, The Reverend is a skewed take on all those vigilante movies of yore. It’s earnest and almost desperate to please, ricocheting between tranquillity and brutality as the mild-mannered cleric becomes a blood-soaked angel of vengeance.
Written and directed by Neil Jones it lacks the budget to execute its ambitions and some horror buffs have observed that it appears to have had a humour bypass on the basis that jokes can underscore any deficiencies in acting, plotting, action and gore.
Yet if it proves anything it’s that there is a growing population of underground filmmakers with the will to get out there and make viable movies. This one may lack the power of delivery but one has to marvel at the energy and passion that has gone into creating what aspires to be a genre-busting entry in the annals of British horror cinema.