This slab of low-budget Brit hokum looks like it's been pieced together from the off-cuts of 10 (bad) horror films.
On the front cover of the soon-to-be-released DVD of Neil Jones' The Reverend, there's a press quote that calls the film, 'A phenomenal take on The Vampire Movie'. A rudimentary Google search notifies that there is no actual film called, "The Vampire Movie". The quote simply alludes to the slapdash miscellany of go-to vampire movie staples from which this movie not only pilfers (phenomenally), but also goes some length to ruin. Forever.
The cover also touts the participation of Rutger Hauer, giving his grizzled mug pride of place and sitting it above an oversized name caption. He features in the film during a spurious prologue that could literally be appended to the front of any genre film ever made and it would still make some sense.
Here, it acts as the lead-up to a story about a softly-spoken, wet-behind-the-ears provincial reverend who, for reasons left unexplained, is seen as a major fackin' nuisance to the local gangland fraternity – a kind of South Wales Chinatown lorded over by Tamer Hassan in an ill-fitting puce gilet and fat-guy hat.
When a white haired Brazilian beauty wanders in during the rev's post communion lull (no, us neither), she chomps his neck, spontaneously combusts, then, quick-as-a-flash, he's transformed into a holy blood guzzler who kicks ass at the behest The Lord. And by that, we mean that he's been given a pass by his secular seniors to kill anyone who looks a bit dodgy.
Shane Ritchie – and we'll repeat that – Shane Ritchie turns up as a C-bomb dropping pimp in a shit-flecked bowler hat who, if you stuck him in some yard sale roller skates, would resemble one of the evil trains from Starlight Express. He's bimbling about by some bins and being a little loud and belligerent – nothing particularly unusual for a chalked-up sex worker. Yet, the reverend deems him worthy of instant death without trial, staving his head in with a table leg before biting then burning the blighter.
Though it is, of course, played in a hyper-real comic book tenor – it's based on a graphic novel of the same name – Jones's film does clearly aspire to offer some serious social context for its dog-collared night avenger. And that social context amounts to this: if you are "bad" in the broadest sense of the term, you deserve to perish.
On that level, you could dimiss this as being an egregious right-wing fanfare for the gets-the-job-done precepts of shotgun justice, but you'd have to overlook the fact that, technically, the film could barely trade blows with Turkish Star Wars.
With needlessly prolonged dialogue exchanges in which the characters seem to say the same thing four or five times (only slightly louder with each repetition), it feels as if writer-producer-editor-director Jones is padding things out so the material reaches that coveted 90 minute runtime (see also the 7-minute plus end credit sequence).
The acting, too, is seriously subpar, with stocky charisma vacuum Stuart Brennan coming across as rather lacklustre in the lead, especially when placed next to the scenery-chewing likes of Hassan and Ritchie. Yes, Ritchie...
A British, low-budget Rutger Hauer vehicle. Hold the phones!* (*don't hold the phones.)
A British, low-budget Rutger Hauer vehicle would've been vastly preferable to this.
Makes Frank Miller's The Spirit look like Rome: Open City.