The Righteous @ Fantasia Film Festival

Filmed in stunning black and white, this Canadian film was shot in Newfoundland by director/screenwriter Mark O’Brien (first feature film). O’Brien is kind of a one-man band here as he is also one of the three main actors in the film. Obviously this was a passion project for him. A stylized horror that relies heavily on atmosphere and mood rather than blood and guts. You have to be patient here with The Righteous as it definitely is of the slow burner category.

A couple living in a small rural community is still reeling from the death of their young daughter. Frederic (Henry Czerny – Mission: Impossible, Clear and Present Danger), a former priest, is, as a result, experiencing a crisis of faith while at the same time being concerned about the mental health of his wife, Ethel (Mimi Kuzyk – The Day After Tomorrow, Lost and Delirious), who is not dealing well with the death.

Their period of grieving is disrupted by the arrival of a young stranger in the middle of the night. Aaron (Mark O’Brien – from television’s City on the Hill) is discovered injured on their property in the middle of the night. Frederic takes him in and bandages his ankle.

At first, they call the police, but upon the arrival of the officer, Frederic lies and says he knows the young man. Ethel seems to really enjoy the presence of the young man while Frederic and Aaron have a different kind of relationship. The two talk a lot about. About themselves and life.

The entire film, which is enjoying its world premiere at Fantasia, is filled with strange and uncomfortable moments. A mysterious feeling envelops the whole proceedings. You are never really sure what is actually going on as there seems to be something constantly bubbling under the surface. This keeps you guessing about what comes next and generally tense.

Confrontation seems to be the central theme of the film. Even the black and white lends to that. Black vs white. Dark vs. light. Evil vs. good. A classic conflict, especially in horror. Mixed in is the whole religious or crisis of faith aspect. That can also translate to any kind of belief, not only religious. All of us at some point in life begin to doubt things we previously had strong beliefs in. Then there is the fight to keep believing in it even after we have strayed a little.

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