Today: February 21, 2024

The Reverend

Picture the scene – you’re sat at home, leafing through your, no doubt, well-thumbed copy of the Bible and, out of the blue, you think to yourself: “You know what? What would really make my life complete is a modern retelling of the Book of Job featuring a vampire vicar who turns vigilante and rids his sleepy village of chavs and violent, drug-addled pimps played by soap actors.”

Picture the scene – you’re
sat at home, leafing through your, no doubt, well-thumbed copy of the Bible
and, out of the blue, you think to yourself: “You know what? What would really make my life complete
is a modern retelling of the Book of Job featuring a vampire vicar who turns
vigilante and rids his sleepy village of chavs and violent, drug-addled pimps
played by soap actors.”

If this scenario sounds familiar, if it’s like peeking inside your head,
like a snapshot of you’re darkest desires, if you desperately want to see EastEnders’ diamond geezer Alfie (Shane Richie) chew the scenery as a proper
norty, two-bob wrong ‘un before getting his throat ripped out, then The Reverend is the film you’ve been
dreaming of.

Here’s the plot: The Devil (Rutger
Hauer
on ‘80s Guinness-commercial horse’s ass form) and The Almighty (Giovanni Lombardo Radice), obviously
starved for entertainment, decide to liven things up by testing the faith of an
innocent vicar, the titular Reverend (Stuart
Brennan
), with his soul up for grabs as the prize. See, told you it was like the Book of
Job.

The Reverend, as meek, mild and naïve as Derek Nimmo ever was, has just
taken over his new parish in a sleepy little country village when late one
dark, rainy night a pouty young succubus (Brazilian Marcia Do Vales) turns up at his door and proceeds to mangle his
neck almost as horrifically as she mangles her dialogue. Waking up the next morning with
superhuman strength and a lust for blood, the Reverend sets out to clean up the
town by killing and feeding on the local gangsters and hoodies, rescuing Goth
hooker Tracy (UK Scream Queen Emily
Booth
) from a life of vice and coming into conflict with local Mr Big, pub
landlord Harold Hicks (Tamer Hassan).

Inept, muddy and tension-free, The Reverend is bit of a mess. The script is pedestrian, peopled by
ciphers and soon dumps its allegoric Job-pretensions in favour of
poorly-realised action scenes and squirty bloodshed but it never quite finds a
tone. Is it a vampire movie? A horror? A black comedy?
Watching the film is like watching a bloodier, less sexy episode of Hollyoaks, the performances pitched
somewhere between soap opera earnestness and outright ham.

Jones is obviously a horror fanboy and has packed his film with cult
favourites Hauer, Radice, ole Pinhead himself Doug Bradley and horror geek fantasy babe Emily Booth but has
committed the cardinal crimes of underusing them (Hauer and Radice disappear
after the opening scene), not having a use for them (Bradley has nothing to do
other than assign the Reverend a new parish that needs cleaning up) or, in the
case of Booth, keeping their clothes on.
Seriously folks, what’s the point of putting Emily Booth in a film if
you’re not going to get her naked?
She is after all playing a Goth hooker who runs a vampire film club down
the local pub.

As the Reverend, Stuart Brennan
never manages to convince as either a pious man of God or a bloodthirsty force
of vengeance and main villain and English gangster B-movie stalwart Tamer Hassan seems to have decided to
simply impersonate celebrity ‘gangster’ and occasional actor, Dave
Courtney. The best performance in
the film, its saving grace in fact, is delivered by soap favourite Shane Richie
playing Booth’s sleazy, depraved, despicable, drugged-up pimp Prince. Ranting, swearing like a trooper,
snorting coke and punching hookers in the guts, Richie chews the scenery like
it’s the inside of his cheeks at a rave and is obviously having a whale of
time, injecting some much needed fun into proceedings.

In fact, fun is the ingredient most missed from The Reverend. Like many small-budget films, its
earnestness and its ambition are its undoing. It’s too coy, too serious. It’s a movie about a vigilante vampire vicar. It should’ve been fun. It needed to be fun. There’s just not enough down-and-dirty
laughs, not enough over-the-top violence, not enough gratuitous nudity.

Frankly, there’s not enough Shane Richie.

Bet you never thought you’d read that sentence.

David Watson

David Watson is a screenwriter, journalist and 'manny' who, depending on time of day and alcohol intake could be described as a likeable misanthrope or a carnaptious bampot. He loves about 96% of you but there's at least 4% he'd definitely eat in the event of a plane crash. Email: david.watson@filmjuice.com

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