A former priest feels like is paying for past sins after the arrival of a mysterious stranger in The Righteous. Frederic Mason (Henry Czerny) is a man who left the priesthood many years ago after meeting his wife Ethel (Mimi Kuzyk). Tragedy recently struck Frederick and Ethel when they lost their daughter, who they had adopted from their friend Doris (Kate Corbett). While grieving at their home, Frederick and Ethel are surprised when a man named Aaron Smith (Mark O'Brien), who has seemingly injured his leg. Frederick reluctantly takes in Aaron to recover and he soon gets treated by Ethel like the son she never had. However, it soon turns out that Aaron has knowledge of a horrible sin Frederic committed while still a priest, and Aaron wants Frederic to commit an equally horrible sin as penance.
The Righteous is the debut film for writer/director Mark O'Brien (Ready or Not), who also acts in the film as the mysterious stranger Aaron Smith, who suddenly arrives at the home of former priest Frederic Mason, played by O'Brien's Ready or Not co-star Henry Czerny. Shot in a very stark black and white, The Righteous begins as a drama about a couple mourning the loss of the child, but the plot inches more towards horror as Aaron Smith reveals himself to have sinister intentions, as he wants Frederic to pay for the sins of his past.
It is really hard to classify The Righteous as a straightforward horror film, even though the film undoubtedly becomes one by the climax. The Righteous is much more of a film that combines arthouse with genre, particularly with the very striking black and white cinematography. The plot of The Righteous is also structured very much like a play, with its small cast and dialogue-heavy scenes. While probably not recommended for those looking for a visceral horror film, The Righteous still ends up as a somewhat impressive directorial debut for Mark O'Brien.
The Righteous is screening as part of the 2021 Fantasia Film Festival
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