There’s nothing like a slow burn horror film where the fear comes from realization rather than sudden surprise. Here’s something you already know, you have to participate here. This film will only get under your skin if you let it. It will give you all the incentive, with engaging characters and crisp black and white photography. It will keep its sets small and its locations minimal. If you let it work its mojo, it will entrance you. However, it does require you to get in the zone, and if you’re just watching this in the background it’s not going to work.
The Righteous (2021) is written and directed by Mark O’Brien. Frederic Mason (Henry Czerny) is a former priest. He’s married to Ethel Mason (Mimi Kuzyk). They’ve just lost their young daughter and are grieving. One night, a wounded man appears. Frederic takes him in, under protest by Ethel. Soon enough, he starts to become part of their lives. Ethel has accepted him, but Frederic now starts to regret his decision. The young man, Aaron (Mark O’Brien) soon starts to get under Frederic’s skin. Something doesn’t add up.
This is both a gorgeous and unsettling film. It stays mostly tied to one location, it has a minimal main cast and it takes its time to develop its characters. You don’t really get into revealing the true conflict long into the film, and that means you have to set aside your expectations. The film does not feel it needs to justify its horror genre until well past the middle of its runtime, and even then don’t anticipate any huge developments until the last act.
Strongly recommended for slow burn horror enthusiasts only. This film requires you to get into it so it can get under your skin, but it does require patience. That’s not a flaw but horror fans that are keen to get their fix might find it a little too slow of pace. There’s no real gore or scares to tide you over, so this one’s payoff is only worth it if you’re into the kind of horror you realize over time rather than the one that jumps at you. Worth a watch if that’s your thing but if you’re looking for scares or gore, you might need to look elsewhere.
That will do for now.