19th Nov2018

‘The Heretics’ VOD Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Nina Kiri, Ry Barrett, Jorja Cadence, Will King, Nina Richmond, Austin Duffy | Written by Chad Archibald, Jayme LaForest | Directed by Chad Archibald

HERETICS-KEY-ART

Director Chad Archibald first came to my attention with the slasher that isn’t half as popular as it should be, The Drownsman (it could easily be an ongoing franchise). He followed that up with the intriguing Ejecta and then the gross-out body horror of Bite. The Heretics is the latest offering from a director that is not afraid to shake things up.

The Heretics takes what is a simple story of a woman being kidnapped and turns it completely on its head. What we also get are cults, suicides, crazy girlfriends and some sort of demon. That’s quite a lot to pack into an hour and twenty five minutes. But pack it in it does and the time flies by… Pretty much jumping straight into the action and opting not to really go for a slow-build. Don’t get me wrong, a story is told here but it’s at a good pace.

The director and cinematography Jeff Maher managed to create some striking and fantastic imagery. The visual effects, which are mostly, if not all, practical look very impressive and despite having ideas that are probably above their station when it come to the budget they have, it all looks great. You could take a handful of single shots from this film that would look nice in (a quite weird) art gallery, including a absolutely perfect final shot. And despite all this, there are times when the movie is dirty and horrible (not dislike ‘Bite’) and like most horror films should look. This manages to do this despite not having too many moments of out and out gore. Which actually makes it more impressive.

The main cast put in good performances. Nina Kiri and Ry Barrett as Gloria and Thomas are both very enjoyable but it’s the less experienced Jorja Cadence as Joan that really stands out for me. It’s the kind of role that nine times out of ten has the actor go a bit to over the top and almost becoming a caricature of what they are suppose to be. But Cadence gets it just right and is completely believable in the role. I’d be surprised if she doesn’t go on to do bigger things.

Archibald also writes, as he did for Bite and The Drownsman, proving that he has some very interesting, unique and entertaining ideas when it comes to the genre and he doesn’t let anything get in the way of telling those stories. He is definitely creating his own style but is clearly willing to use that style in whatever type of horror story he thinks work best. I can’t wait to see his next film (I’ll Take Your Dead) will entail. Because The Heretics is a brave film that could have gone horribly wrong but instead brings something a little bit different and original to the table. This is one of the best horror surprises of 2018 and I hope it reaches more people than the directors previous work.

**** 4/5

The Heretics is available On Demand across the US now and comes to DVD on January 5th from Uncork’d Entertainment.

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