out of Five
Running time: 98
Relentlessly terrible, badly directed British horror with dreadful performances, deathly dull dialogue and a nonsensical plot that fails to deliver on its own premise.
What's it all about?
Written and directed by Neil Jones, The Reverend is a British horror flick that claims to be based on a graphic novel, although that graphic novel currently only seems to exist as a series of drawings that accompany the opening credits (the graphic novel section of the film's website only says ‘Coming Soon’). After a largely superfluous prologue in which Rutger Hauer appears as the Devil, we meet the titular Reverend (Stuart Brennan), a newly arrived, kind-hearted priest who has barely settled into his South Wales parish before he's bitten on the neck by a scantily-clad young Brazilian lady (Marcia Do Vales) and turned into a vampire.
Dealing surprisingly well with this new turn of events, the Reverend decides to put his insatiable thirst for blood to good use and promptly goes to work on the village's cast of villains and ne'er-do-wells, including coke-snorting pimp Prince (Shane Richie) and the village's Mister Big, Harold Hicks (Tamer Hassan). Meanwhile, the Reverend takes beautiful local prostitute Tracy (Emily Booth) under his wing as he tries to protect her from all and sundry.
The fact that Shane Richie's performance as a coke-snorting pimp is the best thing in the film (while still being every bit as terrible as it sounds) should tell you everything you need to know about The Reverend. To be fair, British horror queen Emily Booth puts in a decent performance as Tracy, but she's given nothing interesting to do and she has zero chemistry with Brennan, who's something of a charisma-free zone.
The set-up is promising, but the dismal script fails to get to grips with its premise, largely ditching the struggle for the soul of the priest idea (the whole reason Rutger Hauer showed up in the first place) in favour of a series of sequences involving Brennan biting necks, and large quantities of syrupy-looking fake blood. The film is further undermined by an excruciatingly bad voiceover, narrated by Brennan in a flat monotone that suggests he was only handed the script a moment beforehand.
Booth aside, the performances are utterly dreadful, while no-one involved seems to know whether they're going for black comic horror or something more serious. It's a shame, because with – okay, let's be honest – a total rewrite, this could have been an enjoyably dark comedy. As it is, it makes Lesbian Vampire Killers look like a work of genius.
With poor performances, a dreadful script and inept direction, this is an appalling mess on pretty much every level. If for some reason you still want to see it then at least wait until Monday for the DVD, as it's only receiving a tiny promotional theatrical release.