Cult Hero is the brand new function from prolific Canadian filmmaker Jesse Thomas Cook dinner, the director of a minimum of seven low-budget horror footage (most notably Monster Brawl, which premiered at Fantasia in 2011). Cook dinner’s newest – an over-the-top horror-comedy that tells the story of a washed-up movie star ‘cult buster’ determined to revive his status – is hilariously self-aware, delightfully gratuitous and constantly enjoyable. Our Tradition opinions the movie right here as a part of its choice from the 2022 Fantasia Worldwide Movie Competition.
Dale Domazar (Ry Barrett) was a actuality tv star whose present Cult Buster noticed him monitor down and expose harmful fringe teams (till he by chance triggered a mass suicide throughout a reside episode, anyway). Kallie Jones (Liv Collins) is a struggling realtor who wants Domazar’s assist – to not promote a home (although which may come later), however to rescue her submissive husband Brad (Justin Bott) from the enigmatic Grasp Jagori (Tony Burgess). Brad checked into Jagori’s wellness centre to try to get his life again on monitor, which is a disgrace on condition that it’s really a entrance for a loss of life cult. Collectively, Domazar and Kallie got down to rescue Brad, and perhaps simply get Dale again on TV.
As its title suggests, Cult Hero goals to evoke the low-budget, high-concept style movies frequent to the Nineteen Eighties: the sort of midnight film that performed flea-bitten grindhouses or, after the VCR turned extensively accessible later within the decade, went straight-to-video (typically accompanied by lavish cowl paintings that vastly missold the movie itself). In that regard, it’s half of a bigger motion in impartial Canadian style cinema. Like Father’s Day (2011), Hobo with a Shotgun (2011), WolfCop (2014), Turbo Child (2015) and Psycho Goreman (2020) earlier than it, Cult Hero desires to seize the enjoyable of a cult basic watched too late at night time on a grainy VHS tape.
And, for probably the most half, it succeeds. Lots of the movie’s retro attraction is available in its first and third acts, the place the vast majority of the movie’s motion (or, extra precisely, ‘cult busting’) takes place. It’s within the movie’s opening and shutting scenes that Cook dinner is ready to stage some gloriously entertaining set items and permit special-effects supervisor Jonathan Craig to supply the sort of gratuitous violence one expects to see in a style throwback like Cult Hero, as Domazar (and later Kallie) takes on sinister cult leaders and their brainwashed followers with pleasingly gory outcomes.
The movie actually slows down in between, however what retains it constantly partaking regardless of a slower tempo is its performances. Ry Barrett is the clear standout right here; higher recognized for taking part in straight-faced roles within the likes of The Demolisher (2015) and Lifechanger (2018), he’s forged gloriously in opposition to sort because the totally ridiculous Dale Domazar. A beer-swilling egotist who speaks in an affected half-whisper and provides operating commentary on the movie’s occasions with laughable sincerity, Domazar is a scathing send-up of D-list actuality stars. By way of Barrett’s pitch-perfect comedian flip, he comes throughout like a hilarious cocktail of second-rate motion hero, TV ghost hunter and a background further torn straight from an episode of Miami Vice (1984–1990). Liv Collins, too, is commonly laugh-out-loud humorous in her function because the uptight Kallie, a caricature of the form of stereotypical middle-aged lady who continually desires to talk to the supervisor.
Barrett and Collins are, in fact, vastly aided by Kevin Revie’s screenplay, which is crammed with witty one-liners and non-sequiturs. However the writing isn’t solely humorous, it’s additionally very intelligent. Whereas one of the best phrase to explain Cult Hero could be ‘enjoyable,’ it isn’t simply superficial leisure. The movie’s narrative concern with cults – and people who find themselves looking for some sort of which means and belonging in these teams – can also be its thematic preoccupation. Everybody in Cult Hero is in search of one thing: Domazar craves fame, fortune and adoration; Kallie desires to ‘repair’ her damaged husband; Brad, in flip, is wiling to strive something which may make his monotonous life value residing; and Grasp Jagori’s followers are looking for nothing lower than ascension to a larger airplane of existence.
What all of them overlook to do is respect what they have already got – to cease desperately looking for one thing extra and reside within the right here and now. The movie makes the purpose that it’s precisely the misplaced feeling that one thing is lacking in life that drives weak folks into the arms of exploitative cults led by non secular predators like Jagori. So Cult Hero is finally a movie that provides its viewers an vital message about residing within the current and a deranged cult chief wielding a flamethrower – what extra may you need?