There are moments in director Mark O’Brien’s The Righteous where it feels as though the film has been directed by a seasoned veteran, and not a newcomer directing his first film. Exquisitely shot in black and white, with stunning cinematography by Scott McClellan, The Righteous has the look of a film that could end up being an instant classic. Sadly, the film is let down by a drawn out story, and even at a relatively short run time of one hour 37 minutes, it outstays it welcome fairly early on.
From the look of the films trailer, you would be forgiven for thinking this was going to be a religious horror with themes on faith mixed with daringly tense moments. While The Righteous deals with many things; faith, penance, vengeance and death, what it does not do is feel at all interesting or entertaining. As Frederic (Henry Czerny) and his wife Ethel (Mimi Kuzyk) attempt to come to terms with the sudden death of their adopted daughter, they are visited by a stranger in the middle of the night. Enter Aaron (also Mark O’Brien). Aaron appears injured on his arrival to their home in the middle of the woods, and Frederic is at first suspicious of his intentions, while Ethel soon takes a shine to the mysterious stranger. There are echoes of films such as Night of the Hunter, but The Righteous has little to compare it to the 1955 classic starring Robert Mitchum.
The Righteous feels like a stage play, rather than a feature film and it shows when it attempts to dig deeper into its many themes. Henry Czerny is as good as ever, as is Mimi Kuzyk, and O’Brien shows promise as a director. But the feeling that it is pushing for greatness and only achieving mediocrity cannot be shaken, resulting in a film that is promising, frustrating and, at times, just plain boring.
The Righteous is available now on Arrow Player.
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