Blu-ray Review: The Righteous

The slow burn horror film is a difficult thing to pull off since there’s a thick line between a deliberate and effective pacing and just being dull and padding things out to feature film length. A director can claim they’re paying homage to the art house legends of yesteryear to explain the lack of over-the-top scares. At the end of the film feel guilty and want to confess the sin of being fooled into watch a non-scary film. Luckily The Righteous is a film that falls on the good side of that thick line as it does the perfect slow build up with an art house feel. This is perfect to watch when you’re looking for a religious horror film that isn’t a priest battling winged demons.

Frederic Mason (Mission: Imposible’s Henry Czerny) is an ex-priest who quit the church in order to marry Ethel (Hill Street Blues‘ Mimi Kuzyk). Things have gone bad for Frederic since their adopted daughter has died. During the funeral, a priest tells Frederic that maybe this is God giving him a message. This is a creepy thing to say, but the words weigh hard on Frederic’s soul. Would the girl still be alive if he’d stayed faithful to his calling to serve God? In the midst of this crisis a stranger with a hurt leg appears in their driveway. Aaron (Halt And Catch Fire‘s Mark O’Brien) has a convoluted story as to how he ended up at the remote house. Frederic and Ethel take the injured man into their living room. Aaron seems to know quite a bit about the couple. Ethel immediately becomes attached to him. There’s a strange feeling that this is a Biblical story and Aaron might be an angel come to heal the family. But as things evolve, Aaron just might be a messenger from the Devil to finish off Frederic. Although there’s a chance Aaron might be someone worse.

The Righteous with its black and white cinematography and stark location creates the proper amount of tension that explodes in the final scene. This is not a film filled with cheap visual scares. The small cast really brings the necessary elements to make this story engrossing. Henry Czerny brings the despair and confusion to his ex-priest character the gets pulled hard by the stranger in hid midst. Mimi Kuzyk brings the hurt and the deep needed desire to heal from the tragedy. Mark O’Brien keeps us guessing about his character until the final frame. He elevates the film he wrote and directed. He brings the uncertainty that tears at the faith of Frederic. The Righteous is a nightmare that deserves that scares you in your soul.

The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The black and white transfer brings out the starkness of the scenery. The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD MA. There’s also a 2.0 DTS-HD MA mix. There’s also an English Audio Description track. The movie is subtitled.

Audio Commentary by writer, director and actor Mark O’Brien and editor Spencer Jones. They explain how they made the low budget film in 15 days up in Canada. Jones discusses editing it so the slow burn and revelations work.

Cast and crew interviews with writer/director/actor Mark O’Brien (33:47), producer Mark O’Neill (7:01), actors Henry Czerny (17:08), Mimi Kuzyk, and Kate Corbett (17:17), editor Spencer Jones (11:04), cinematographer Scott McClellan (10:22), and production designer Jason Clarke (9:26). There’s plenty of discussion on how the film came about and adjustments to shooting in black and white.

Roundtable Discussion (73:00) with Mark O’Brien and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett and Chad Villella of Radio Silence

Stage Presentation and Q&A (32:35) with Mark O’Brien and Henry Czerny from the World Premier at Fantasia International Film Festival 2021. The crowd really enjoyed the film.

Grimmfest 2021(19:36) live-streamed Q&A with Mark O’Brien. They are talking via a teleconference that must have streamed during the virutal version of the festival.

Trailer (1:54) sets up the spiritual nightmare that awaits.

Original Soundtrack and Stills (65:17) presents a montage of production photos with the music.

Arrow Video presents The Righteous. Directed by Mark O’Brien. Screenplay by Mark O’Brien. Starring Henry Czerny, Mimi Kuzyk & Mark O’Brien. Running Time: 95 minutes. Rated: Unrated. Release Date: July 19, 2022.

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