Cult Hero (2022)
Director (and co-writer): Jesse Thomas Cook
Cast: Liv Collins, Ry Barrett, Tony Burgess, Justin Bott, Jessica Vano, Charlie Baker, Jonathan Craig, Justin Darmanin, Steve Kasan
Manager-summoning control freak Kallie Jones attempts to rescue her husband from a “wellness center” with the help of a washed-up expert Cult Buster. – IMDB
Playing on the ghost hunting investigative reality show, Cult Hero isn’t about ghosts but about cult as its name implies. The film starts off with the downfall of a renowned Cult Buster, Dale whose operation goes immensely wrong when the cult ends up not only following through with the ritual that causes his show to be cancelled. Right away, it sets the tone of the film as the debunking and things going wrong ends up in some over the top silliness. This story takes place 5 years later when the chance comes to hopefully revive his character and his show when a realtor sends her husband to Hope Acres under the recommendation of their therapist in hopes to get him out of his negative mindset when a weekend turns into a permanent stay.
Taking the film from the perspective of Dale, Kallie and the inside operation of Hope Acres, it is a fun and silly viewing experience. Comedy isn’t for everybody but they have a very good balance of the silliness that is needed which makes it a very quick-paced and intriguing story as there’s always that wonder whether its just Kallie’s control freak side which is viewing Hope Acres as a cult when she asks for help but when things start to become much more dangerous, it becomes apparent that her claims are actually rather grounded and even those little things she mentioned before all seem to slide into place and makes sense in the whole spectrum of the narrative and script.
There’s no doubt that films like this are fueled by their cast. Here we have Ry Barrett who is a very familiar face in Canadian indie films of all genres like drama film Still The Water (review) or a bunch of indie horrors from Black Fawn Films and even last year’s BITS festival film The Chamber of Terror (review) who plays Dale Domazar who is the over the top character and plays the heck out of this character in such an entertaining way. He’s been a lot of films that I’ve been very impressed with so this film was already set for some fun times and it definitely delivered. The other main character Kallie Jones is played by co-writer of the film Liv Collins who played alongside Ry Barrett before in Deadsight (review) and she is almost very convincing in her role as a control freak. It feels like her character isn’t quite the same level of silliness and maybe it could have gone a little further but there is still a good balance of her character to keep things a little grounded to reality for this situation. Plus, the film does script her a fantastic big finale moment.
Overall, Cult Hero is straight forward and simple. Its all about having a silly fun time playing on the world of the exhibition of reality shows and the ridiculousness of cults. Sometimes that’s exactly what we want in cinema. To be fair, Cult Hero reminded me a lot of last year’s The Chamber of Terror as it felt the same level of fun. There’s laughs, over the top characters, some guts and gore and while its not a film for everyone as most comedies aren’t but there’s nothing wrong with a film that aims to deliver a good old fun time and it certainly did that for me.
***Cult Hero is as part of the Blood in the Snow program on November 26th at 9:30pm at the Isabel Bader Theatre***
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