*. The director of The Heretics, Chad Archibald, hails from Guelph, Ontario, which is where a lot of this movie was shot (the other location was Erin, which is a small town just outside of Guelph). Since Guelph is my hometown I really feel like I should be giving this one a critical discount.
*. But the thing is, I didn’t recognize any of the locations and I only found out that it had been shot in Guelph by listening to the commentary. Actually, most of was filmed in the woods outside Guelph. The one Guelph landmark that’s used is our covered bridge, which Archibald says looks like the inside of a spaceship. I thought it looked like a bus terminal.
*. As for the movie, it’s a quick indie horror flick. In order for these to really stand out they usually need either a great original script or some special directorial vision. Well, The Heretics isn’t very original or special, but it’s not bad. We begin with the heroine waking up in bed screaming after a quick dream sequence and before too long we’re off to a cabin in the woods. The story involves a bunch of devil-worshippers who are using the heroine to bring forth an ancient demon. This is all pretty standard stuff.
*. Again we have the idea that God is dead but devils are very much a real presence in the world. It’s noteworth that both Gloria and Joan work at a church, but the building is only used as a community drop-in centre. At one point Thomas tells us about how he lost his faith in the cult because there is no God and he doesn’t believe in demons. But while he’s clearly right that there’s no God, there are demons. Which makes you wonder to what extent the cultists can be considered heretics. Or if the tag line “Pray they don’t come for you” makes any sense. What use would prayer be?
*. It’s not that the script is terrible so much as there’s just not enough of it. There’s the one twist — a good one which took me by surprise, and introduced the best part of the movie — but that’s it. The film is just under 90 minutes but I came away thinking it could have been done in half that length, or in an hour at the most. Once you know where everything is going it plays out exactly how you’d expect, even down to the way they tug the rug out at the end. Which you knew was coming.
*. I wasn’t as thrilled by The Heretics as I’ve been by other indie Canadian horror movies I’ve seen recently. Titles I enjoyed more include Afflicted, The Void, and Black Mountain Side. But Nina Kiri and Jorja Cadence are both quite good here (the latter in particular has a really dangerous quality), and Kiri’s transformation is well handled. Also, even though it’s a predictable story it’s never really dull. I just didn’t think there was anything special enough about it to take it to another level.