The Reverend DVD Review
Written and directed by Neil Jones
2011, Region 2 (PAL), 98 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 6th August 2012
Stuart Brennan as The Reverend
Tamer Hassan as Harold Hicks
Rutger Hauer as Withstander
Doug Bradley as Reverend Andrews
Emily Booth as Tracy
Simon Phillips as Detective
If you're the sort to play drinking games, there's some fun to be had with The Reverend. Every time someone says “Reverend”, have a shot. You'll be wasted after half an hour. By no mean coincidence, 'drunk' is the best way to watch The Reverend.
The film opens with Rutger Hauer entering a room full of priests, all of whom are wielding samurai swords and looking very sinister and conspiratorial. Sadly, Rutger Hauer is not The Reverend's Reverend in question. The following movie bears no relation to its pre-credits sequence. The Reverend (Stuart Brennan, credited only as 'The Reverend') arrives, fresh from seminary school, at his parish in a sleepy English village. Soon after his arrival, The Reverend is visited by a mysterious stranger. She promptly leaps upon the poor Rev and sucks the very blood from his veins. When he awakes, The Reverend finds himself struggling with a sinister lust he doesn't quite know what to do with. Reverend Vampire is born.
What follows is like a bizarre cross between the British TV comedy Rev, gloomy soap opera Eastenders and Being Human. On paper, it sounds like a mess, and the presence of certain British actors don't do much to put one at ease. It's certainly jarring to go from Rutger Hauer to Tamer Hassan in the space of twenty minutes. The Reverend brings one of Hassan's better performances. He plays his usual sweary gangster self (“I own this fackin' village”) but his rant about vicars using Twitter and Facebook brings a wry smile. Besides, the presence of Tamer Hassan is nothing compared to what comes later. The reference will be lost on anyone unfamiliar with Eastenders (lucky you) but Shane Richie plays a violent pimp.
It's a hilariously bad performance from a man best known as the cockney idiot running the Queen Vic in Eastenders. He even wears the same leather jacket as the Vic's landlord, Alfie Moon. Well, his old Butlins redcoat would hardly have been appropriate. This is a movie in which Shane Richie (the same Shane Richie who released a jaunty cover of I'm Your Man for Comic Relief) says the words “suckin' cock and takin' money” before punching his Hoe (the technical term) in the stomach and beating up a man of the cloth. From Rutger Hauer to Tamer Hassan all the way down to Shane Richie - The Reverend has a truly bizarre cast, even by Brit flick standards.
Thankfully, Brennan is the film's anchor. He remains sympathetic and likeable, even during the story's sillier moments. The vampirism aspect soon takes a back seat to The Reverend's vigilantism. As he hunts down and murders the village's gangster contingent one by one, The Reverend is closer to a vampire version of The Punisher than your standard bloodsucker. Emily Booth provides able support as The Reverend's love interest, the archetypal tart with a heart.
I expected to hate it, but The Reverend is a fantastic, stupid, ridiculous little movie. It will be a very acquired taste, but those who enjoy their low-budget horror with a silly streak should find much to enjoy. However, the special features' interview with Emily Booth suggests that I was supposed to take The Reverend a lot more seriously than I did. So no sniggering in the back rows – even if Shane Richie is wearing a silly hat.
Video and Audio:
Its audio and visuals betray the movie's low budget, although (most of) the acting and choreography are good enough to make up for that.
A behind the scenes video offers an interview with Rutger Hauer, who does a good job of explaining the context behind his one scene in the film. Later there's an interview with a supporting actor named Edmund Kingsley, explaining his character's motivations in an extremely posh manner. This bears mentioning because his character is called 'Thug' and speaks in chav vernacular. Now that's what you call acting.