Directed by: Chad Archibald
Run time: 87 minutes
The Lowdown: Writer-director Chad Archibald has a thing for gory body horror, and that’s not meant as a complaint.
Whereas his previous directorial efforts have veered from so-so (The Drownsman) to pretty-good (Bite), he finally finds the proverbial sweet spot with The Heretics, and horror fans should rejoice.
This is the best kind of gooey, gory, over-the-top occult horror with some seriously impressive practical special effects.
The Heretics is lean and mean, story-wise. Gloria (rising genre star Nina Kiri) was once kidnapped by a doomsday Satanic cult, whose members were believed to have all sacrificed themselves during a locust moon ritual where Gloria was tied to an altar deep in a forest.
Years later, Gloria is still trying to recover from that traumatic ordeal. She’s in therapy. Her mother keeps close watch over her. And her best friend, Joan (Jorja Cadence), is constantly by her side.
But then, Gloria is kidnapped once again, this time by a surviving member of the cult, Thomas (Ry Barrett), who faked his suicide only to resurface in time to thwart the cult’s end-game, the reason for Gloria’s initial abduction.
Essentially, Gloria was possessed during the ritual by the spirit of a really nasty demon that plans on bursting forth under the light of the next locust moon to wreak destruction across the planet.
So, Thomas steals Gloria away to keep her safe and stop her transformation because if she can remain human through dawn on the eve of the locust moon, then nothing bad will happen.
Archibald makes the most of his slight runtime, avoiding unnecessary subplots and focusing almost exclusively on the painful and horrific spawning that Gloria is about to experience. Between The Heretics and 2016’s little-seen but spectacular Let Her Out, Kiri is quickly becoming a master of full-body transformations, and she makes you believe here that a demon is literally trying to force its way out of her system.
Best of all, the entire third act of The Heretics plays out like a roller coaster car gone el loco and racing unbridled along a rickety track to oblivion. It’s a fantastic, full-throttle sprint to a gloriously gory climax that will leave viewers cheering in disbelief.
The Heretics is easily one of the best horror movies released so far this year, and it’s a definite must-watch title that should quickly vault to the top of your list.
The Stuff You Care About:
Hot chicks – Yes.
Nudity – Yes.
Gore – Oh, yes.
Drug use – No.
Bad Guys/Killers – Just your everyday apocalyptic demon.
Buy/Rent – Buy it.
Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers: Collector’s Edition (Shout! Factory, 91 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): It’s amazing to consider that since 1976, nearly 70 feature films and television miniseries have been spawned from the works of horror icon Stephen King.
Sure, there’s a debate to be made about the overall quality of these collected works, and let’s face it, a lot of the films that carry King’s name are not worth the time it takes to endure them. But there are many classics to be found.
Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers is not one of them.
Sleepwalkers is one of the few films written directly for the screen by King that is not based on one of his own books. Released in 1992, it was directed by Mick Garris (ugh) and features one of the most ridiculous plots of any horror movie ever made, King-based or not.
Basically, the Brady family, son Charles (Brian Krause) and incestuous mom Mary (Alice Krige), are a kind of energy vampire that absorbs the lifeforce of young, nubile, female virgins. After relocating to middle-of-nowhere Indiana from sunny, coastal California (where they left a bunch of drained bodies), Charles Brady sets his sights on Tanya (Mädchen Amick), a pure-as-driven-snow high schooler.
Did I mention that Charles and his mom also can make themselves and other inanimate objects become invisible?
There’s just one wrinkle: Even all-powerful, energy vampire were-beasts must have a mortal enemy, and for the Brady clan, their enemy is none other than everyday house cats. That’s right – cats, specifically a tabby named Clovis who happens to be the occasional partner of a dim deputy in their hometown.
Sleepwalkers is pure hokey throughout. It’s dumber than dumb, which should mean it’s purely enjoyable as a popcorn movie, but it’s really not.
Of all the misfires based on King’s incredible body of work, Sleepwalkers hold special significance for being quite possibly the worst of the worst.
The Sound of Music Live
Scrooged: 25th Anniversary Edition
Art School Confidential
An Interview with God
Now on Video-on-Demand:
Possum (Dark Sky Films, 85 minutes, Unrated, Video-on-Demand): Possum, the directorial debut of actor-writer Matthew Holness, is a rare misstep by the usually dependable Dark Sky Films.
I’m not sure exactly what Possum is supposed to be about, but for the majority of its slight run-time, you basically watch star Sean Harris wander around a dreary English countryside with a satchel that is hiding an eerily large spider, which he keeps burying in the woods only to have it return each night to his dilapidated room in his decrepit childhood home.
Fans of avant-garde mind-fuck cinema may champion Possum, but I suspect the majority of people who seek out Dark Sky titles confident they are going to watch something super cool will be left scratching their heads and checking the clock, waiting for something, anything, to happen on-screen.