Sunday, February 2, 2014

Horror Film Review

The Catechism Cataclysm (2011):  Just what in the name of all that's holy was that?  I rarely experience a true WTF moment when I watch horror films but certainly did this time.  Repeatedly.  It's not like Coyote where reality itself was in question.  Or is it?  Oh, hell...let me tell you about it:

Father Billy (Steve Little), quite possibly the dorkiest man on the planet, is asked to take a break from his parish duties by the elder priest (Wally Dalton).  Billy has lost focus, spends Bible study class relaying urban legends from the internet.  For his imposed break, he convinces his sister's ex-boyfriend Robbie (Robert Longstreet) to accompany him on an afternoon canoe trip.  Billy grew up idolizing him, thinks Robbie is on tour with his rock band, and can't accept the truth that he's just a spotlight operator. 

On the river, they miss their turn and become lost as dusk descends. As they sit on the bank resolved to wait for morning, Billy and Robbie encounter another group of rafters, two young Asian women and hefty black guy who invite them to their campsite.  The giggly and seemingly harmless women are dubbed Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn (Koko Lanham and Ann Maddox) while the silent giant in the beige track suit is, of course, Jim (Rico A. Comic).  A mysterious liquid is passed around in small cups (definitely not sake) and then the weirdness begins.  The girls strap strange looking headphones on the men's heads, don strange looking gloves with wires leading from the fingertips to a set of strange looking glowing orbs, and then proceed to play some strange sounding music.  They like first.  Then it starts to hurt.  And then it starts to hurt a lot.  Billy wakes up to a deserted campsite, goes a  bit daffy, and then runs like hell for civilization.  I can't tell you what happens with Robbie.  Has to be seen to be believed, although you can probably guess.

So who were the Asian ladies, what was the contraption, and what was its purpose?  It's a "beats the hell out of me" hat trick.  To a lesser extent, what had Jim done that warranted a kneeling-in-pee confession and why did his eyes glow red, who sent Billy's Bible back in pristine condition after it was dropped in a diarrhea filled toilet and abandoned, and what did the elder priest want Billy to see over in the corner at the end?  Rarely has a film left so many important questions unanswered.  Or maybe I'm just thick.  It's been known to happen.  Was the whole episode another Father Billy urban legend?  Or was it part reality and part delusion?  If you're reading this and are in any way connected with the movie, let me know, will ya?

A few other things.  The title is superfluous, but as this is at heart a dark comedy, it makes sense.  The opening and closing credits are overwrought and illegible (see the movie poster).  And finally, the music.  There is song at the very end called "Hand of the Almighty" that in itself is worth sitting through the whole film.  It is hilarious, but definitely not for anyone who takes religion too seriously. 

The Skinny

Acting:  Longstreet could be Jeffrey Dean Morgan's brother.  Spooky.  No performance is bad.  Little is annoying as Billy, but that was the point. 
Story:    ???
Direction:  Lackadaisical. 
Production Values:  No budget data, but as the majority was filmed in the great outdoors, I'll wager it wasn't much.  The few interior scenes (church, cafĂ©, convenience store, and bathroom) show no tell-tale signs of cheapness.
Gore/FX:  Only one spot of gore and it's a whopper.  No CGI that I could see.
Scares:  Not really that kind of movie.
Ending:  There are essentially two.  Both are a whole bunch of ???
Verdict:  Should you see The Catechism Cataclysm?  Oh, I don't know.  It's weird, puzzling, and ultimately maddening.  If that's what you're into, I say go for it.  Remember to listen to the song.

Rating:  2 out of 5

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