The Righteous (2021)

The Righteous (2021) MOVIE DETAILS
Name: The Righteous
Year: 2021
Country: Canada
Director: Mark O’Brien
Main cast: Henry Czerny, Mark O’Brien, Mimi Kuzyk
Runtime: 97 minutes
Production company: JPanoramic Pictures
TRAILER (official Fantasia clip)

Can you base a whole movie on a plot twist? I mean, can you have that million dollars idea and build a whole story around it just waiting for the moment when you blow the heads off the audience? Well, sure you can, but then you must bring something extra to fill up the time and space until your master move happens. The Righteous (2021) is the perfect example of a film built around one hit story break, but that doesn’t work as it should because the whole environment built around it doesn’t achieve with the expectations.

The Righteous (2021) is the debut feature from actor Mark O’Brien, who besides being the director is also the star, writer, and producer of the film. So all the responsibility rests on him. The story is pretty simple but ambitious. Limited to very few locations and characters, because his nature didn’t demand more. And it has a handful of classic ingredients for a mystery thriller, which include a former priest who lost his faith, who is tormented by the death of his little daughter, and the sudden visit of a mysterious young man. It is clear that both men are keeping very dark secrets, but yet the attraction and interest grow, and with the support of the priest’s wife the young men end up staying in their house for a few days. A few days which will change forever the life of that grieving family.

And, from there, never-ending conversations by the old and the young men that little by little fill up the gaps and reveal the disturbing secrets they both host. The problem is that’s pretty much all you get. Of course, we don’t need big explosions or monstrous creatures in order to create a sense of fear and distress, to build an effective horror movie. But the firewood that The Righteous (2021) provides is not enough to keep the flame alive.

Mark O’Brien does his best to keep the film vivid, especially playing himself the character of the young man who is the bringer of the trouble to the family house. But the tools he has in hand are not enough. Acting as the star and being the director responsible for the whole thing seem to be too big shoes. The screenplay was never strong enough to sustain the story for an hour and a half of running time. And the choice to shoot the film in black and white might seem to be an easy resource for creating a more approaching and intimistic feeling towards the audience but ends up subtracting the warmth of the action, making the watch feel too distant.

The Righteous (2021) was built around one blast of an idea, a bold set of surprising plot twists. It has the compelling performances of the old couple formed by Henry Czerny and Mimi Kuzyk, and the ambitious efforts of Mark O’Brien, but sadly the potential of the story fades away becoming an ordinary mystery drama that was aiming high but never had a chance. The more I think about it the more I feel sorry because the idea of the righteous man facing his past of sins was delightful. But, this time, the good intentions weren’t enough.

RATE: 4/10


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