The Righteous (2021)
Director (and writer): Mark O’Brien
Cast: Henry Czerny, Mark O’Brien, Mimi Kuzyk, Mayka Nguyen, Kate Corbett, Nigel Bennett
A burdened man feels the wrath of a vengeful God after he and his wife are visited by a mysterious stranger. – IMDB
The Righteous is a 2021 Canadian occult horror film which films in Newfoundland and uses a black and white cinematography in this full-length feature film from Mark O’Brien where he also writes the script and assumes one of the leading roles as well. The film takes place in a single setting and crafts a horror thriller that looks at a couple who is dealing with their grief after they lose their daughter but also the father who is an ex-priest struggling with his faith while having to dealing with a young stranger that brings on its own conflicts.
The Righteous keeps itself dialed down to its basics as it keeps the setting and other factors fairly simple but focuses on creating a small cast of three well-crafted characters to discover. Nothing is quite twisted and horror-filled than a mysterious individual with unknown intentions busting into someone’s life. While the stranger’s background revolves around a few obvious possibilities and even the little tricks to get himself where he needs to be seems easily deductible, there is still more than meets the eye. Mark O’Brien delivers a great performance as the stranger Aaron who comes back with a solid plan. The character is also conflicted, cryptic and even a tad sad as his story unfolds. While Aaron is a little odd right from the start, as his motive becomes clear for his appearance in this specific location, his character is the most straight-forward. Aaron also is rather unsettling as there is a certain imbalance to his character especially as he requests something unthinkable of Frederick.
The main character is Frederick, played by Henry Czerny, who is an ex-priest after leaving the church to have a family and has suffered this loss. His character is the main one as both of the other 2 or 3 revolve around his as he is the one that goes through this grief and most importantly, the questioning of faith as he reflects on this all due to his own past sins catching up to him. Henry Czerny portrays this character really well, making Frederick rather engaging to watch as his life gets further conflicted. The script gives his character a decent back story from his connection to his wife Ethel to a look at his past which builds up this character in full. Much like Ethel, played by Mimi Kuzyk who might not have as strong a role in general but as a supporting character, she does a great job.
Overall, The Righteous is a well-structured and well-scripted horror thriller that builds its mystery very well and paces the film decently building the tension gradually. The Righteous is its best with the basic elements so that the focus of the film is on these well-developed characters. While black and white cinematography does work exceptionally well here, the film also has some visually appealing moments from the dream sequences that are done really well and adds to either the story or the mystery. The layers of the story and characters in The Righteous make this one well worth a watch.
*The Righteous had its world premiere at Fantasia Film Festival on August 15th and will have an encore virtual screening on August 18th at 9pm. More info HERE.*