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DVD Review

DVD cover



Starring: Hannah Arterton, Freddy Carter, Clare Higgins and Michael Ironside
Distributor: Thunderbird Releasing
Certificate: 18
Release Date: 27 May 2019

When young Persephone dreams about the family barn burning down, and the next day her mother is trapped as the events actually takes place, she is condemned by the local magistrate as a witch. However, the Reverend Mother gives her a reprieve by taking her as a novice to an isolated convent. She is told in no uncertain terms that she must give her life in service to God. But there is a sickness at the convent. Many girls are contracting a virulent fever and are suffering brutal wounds as if being burned or lacerated, before dying – only to return again as something else. The Reverent Mother harbours a deadly secret. Furthermore, she is strict to the point of nastiness, but she isn’t the only evil that Persephone will have to contend with...

Lately, there is an evident craze for demonic or possessed nuns. Haunted house or possession/exorcism films invariably involve a back story of some sort, and Heretiks is no exception. It centres around a group of nuns who years before performed a ritual in the convent aimed at producing a vision of God. Instead, it brought through a demon. The ceremony is described as a conjuring, which is curious because this film owes a significant amount to The Conjuring 2 and The Nun, not least for the nun with the glowing eyes.

As always, it’s great to see Michael Ironside, who loves to play a good villain (if that isn’t a contradiction). He’s grossly under utilised here, seen in only a single scene as the Magistrate. Similarly, Freddy Carter plays Ellis, a young man from the nearest village who has a soft spot for one of the other girls at the convent, but also seems to be serious and have a sensible head on his shoulders. His dispatch whilst attempting to aid the situation is surely only for effect. Persephone knows what the possessed young woman can do but merely stands and watches, not even making an effort to warn the man. Clare Higgins, though, is very effective as the Reverend Mother.

It’s nice to welcome another home grown film. British horror movies should be encouraged, and have certainly been on the increase again during the last ten to twenty years. This one, like many, has a modest budget, and the cast and crew are to be congratulated for creating a believable 17th Century period setting, whilst still managing to incorporate plenty of gore – particularly in the last quarter. Director Paul Hyett also made Howl, which I think was a more enjoyable film, being very character-based. Heretiks is a better than average offering, but does contain many horror clichés. One of the oldest ones in the book is used as a brief after-credits piece.

There is a short Behind-the-Scenes featurette on the disc, but you don’t learn anything about the background of the film; it’s just people saying what the film is about and how much they are enjoying themselves.


Ty Power

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