Revealer - New Release Review
Director: Luke Boyce
Starring: Caito Aase, Shaina Schrooten, Bishop Stevens
Written by: Luke Boyce, Micael Moreci, Tim Seeley
Produced by: Brett Hays, Aaron B. Koontz, Sarah Sharp, Robert Patrick Stern
Cinematography by: Robert Patrick Stern
Original Score by: Alex Cuervo
Tensions rise when a stripper and religious protester are trapped together in a peep show booth and must come together to survive the apocalypse in 1980's Chicago.
There's never been a better time to be a fan of the 80s than right now. Outside of going back in time to one of the funnest, most innovative decades ever, societal behaviour and culture is ravaged by 80s nostalgia more than ever, and that's not a bad thing. 'Top Gun' is killing it at the box office, Kate Bush is back at Number 1 on the charts and Russian military power has been dominating the international news stations. 'Revealer' is a massive throwback to 80s horror films but it also asks some questions about whether it's right or wrong to judge another human being based on a silly fantasy book that was supposedly written hundreds of years ago. Sadly this is an issue that is still profoundly relevant today.
Caito Aase plays Angie, an exotic dancer who works at the local peepshow dive which also doubles as a porn video rental place. It's the late 1980s and Angie is just trying to make ends meet in a world that has apparently forgotten about her. Everyday she goes to work and is plagued by righteous protestors who believe she is doing the Devil's bidding. But Angie, who's stubborn punk rock attitude bleeds through from the very first scene, shakes off these unwarranted judgements and stoically grins and bears it. It's a profession she is clearly talented at but may have some inner reluctance on having to depend on lonely men to pay her wages.
One of the daily protestors is Sally (Shaina Schrooten) who I think is a few years younger than Angie and definitely not as streetwise. While not confirmed, it's hinted that Angie and Sally may have grown up together. Not as friends but at least perhaps went to the same high school or lived in the same neighbourhood. There's a faint familiarity teased early and it actually helps with the story as it progresses later on.
While Angie is not so patiently waiting on another customer, some sort of otherworldly cataclysmic event happens outside and Angie is essentially trapped inside her small, sleazy peepshow booth. She isn't alone though and she realises that her favourite protestor Sally has somehow managed to escape the hell outside and is actually hiding in the booth next to her. After a brief explanation from Sally to what she thinks is going on outside (involving the mention of snakes, damnation, demons and devils) Angie and Sally eventually agree that they must fight through their religious and philosophical differences and work as a unit to find a way out. But they must work quickly because a hellish demon and it's snake-like minions are coming for them.
Luke Boyce's 'Revealer' certainly isn't the first and most definitely won't be the last horror film to reach back 40 years for creative inspiration. It's not one of the better 80s nostalgia films but its also not close to being the worst. It's somewhere in the middle. Clearly 'Stranger Things' has played a huge role in getting this film green-lit and there's lots of lovely 80s synth wave in the score, not to mention a bunch of gorgeous neon red and neon green soaked shots that really pop off the screen. Sometimes a film can go to the well once too many times, using this particular neon lighting technique as a way to distract the viewer from the unsatisfactory story being told but Boyce and DoP Robert Patrick Stern don't overdo it just for the sake of it.
One of the things that I did think was disappointing was the actual creature effects. The snake-like critters are decent looking and there's at least two or three practical puppets mixed in with the CGI but the main demon just didn't do it for me. We first see the demon creature as a silhouette set against some nice neon red lighting and it looks brilliant but in the third act when the creature is revealed it was a little lacklustre. I really wanted the effects team to ramp up the grotesque 80s gore. Angie mentions 'C.H.U.D' early on while the pair are worming their way around the underground tunnels and I was hoping for something similar in way of creature effects. The design is good but I would've liked a lot more oozy goodness and something scary.
Caito Aase isn't a seasoned actor as far as I'm aware but she really does a good job here. She has a lot of charisma and her delivery of some of her one liners was spot on. She doesn't just sell the 80s attitude either as there's a few sincere scenes between Sally and her that require a bit more subtle acting and it really pays off. However the film may have benefitted from a bit more witty and humorous discourse between the two. The main theme of the entire film is all about being judgmental towards each other. The script doesn't reinvent the wheel in that respect but I do think that it works well in trying to get the point across, although I think it's pretty clear that the writers want us to root for Angie and judge Sally, even if they do redeem her by the end. It's a bit on the nose and cheesy but then again so were most of the movies that were actually released during the 80s.
'Revealer' is a fun 80s throwback that doesn't take itself too seriously while trying to say something about society and how we can all try harder to be better human beings. Not as polished as other recent 80s set horror films but still worth a watch.
- Gavin Logan
'Revealer' premieres exclusively on Shudder June 23rd