The Reverend (2012)

Directed By: Neil Jones
Written By: Neil Jones
Starring: Stuart Brennan
  Tamer Hassan
  Rutger Hauer
  Doug Bradley
The Reverend

When the Reverend (Stuart Brennan) of a sleepy English village is attacked and turned into a vampire, he begins questioning his faith when he develops a taste for Human blood. Desperately seeking redemption, he decides to purge the area of sinners by feeding on the all local drug-dealers, pimps and scumbags.

This is the plot. Almost the entire plot, in fact, bar some tacked-on nonsense at the beginning with Rutger Hauer. Reverend gets bitten, Reverend cleans up the sinners, one bite at a time.

The Reverend is apparently based on a graphic novel, which according to the website is ‘coming soon’ so seems to be more ‘developed in tandem with the idea of a graphic novel’. This is a false sell and slightly embarrassing because of it.

The problem with a premise like The Reverend is that it’s simply too thin a concept. Imagine if Park Chan-Wook’s Thirst was set in a small English village and instead of a complex character-study about a man fighting between his religious proclivities and his newfound evil urges, he just decides to murder everyone who’s a bit bad.

The vampire reverend here isn’t explosively-allergic to sunlight, won’t go steamy if holding a cross, can see himself in mirrors and could probably chomp down on a large loaf of garlic bread without screaming in agony. There is no lore here, and it seems incredibly lazy.

The fact the Reverend’s method of execution is to bite someone – who INSTANTLY becomes a vampire (don’t ask) – and then immediately stake them through the chestplate, which conveniently burns their existence away.

Whereas something like Thirst is viscerally subtle, The Reverend gives us a needlessly overwrought voiceover that explains everything in minute detail. It’s a shame because without the frequently annoying voiceover the film might’ve been very interesting. Instead it’s obvious and blatant and irritating.

Unfortunately this also means the film is a little dull when people aren’t getting chewed on by the Reverend or shooting / fighting / being a bit naughty.

The Reverend is enjoyably bloody at times and the makers clearly have a dark, sinister view on the world. The characters on display are cartoonish caricatures of pimps, Goths, gangsters and disgusting perverts all with different regional accents (where is this village, exactly?!). This is perhaps why it’s been falsely labelled as ‘based on a graphic novel’, so we have an excuse for the otherworldly feel to everything we witness.

If you’re tempted to grab a copy of The Reverend because – like me – you think Rutger Hauer is awesome, then you’ll be horribly disappointed. Hauer only appears in the prologue for four minutes… and never ever returns. The fact the DVD / advertising has Hauer’s face slapped all over it is truly abysmal and a cynical marketing tool. It’s Camp Hell all over again.

In fact, one of Rutger Hauer’s first lines is “don’t ruin my reputation” and is an ironic foreshadow, noticeable in his absence from a film that could’ve seriously done with a little more gravitas than featuring Tamer Hassan and Emily Booth. Luckily Stuart Brennan is a decent protagonist and we receive some good turns from other British horror regulars Doug Bradley and Simon Phillips.

Director, writer, producer, editor Neil Jones should be proud of his work, because it’s not cripplingly awful, but with an estimated budget of £1,000,000 you expect more in regards to pace, concept and dialogue.

The Reverend is an interesting concept that is severely underdeveloped. It’s brutal and bloody but unfortunately a little dull when claret isn’t spraying the screen.

Rating: ★★½☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

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