Audiences at Fantasia International Film Festival will likely recognize Mark O’Brien (Ready or Not, Arrival) for his work as an actor. This time, the focus is on his feature-film debut as writer and director of The Righteous. The plot follows an ex-priest and his wife after they lose their adoptive daughter in a tragic accident. When a stranger appears outside their house one night, the ex-priest is forced to face his own sin to save his family. This black and white film is a mysterious slow burn that plays with the audiences’ perception. Is there something supernatural occurring? Is this stranger evil? Is the ex-priest losing his mind? While not all of these questions are answered, the film still packs in quite a bit of tension, plus a few twists and turns, leading up to the shocking finale.
Because The Righteous is an intimate look at the secrets people keep, the focal point is the performances rather than any effects. The entire small cast is wonderful, but the standouts are definitely O’Brien himself as the stranger, Aaron, and Henry Czerny (Ready or Not, Mission: Impossible) as ex-priest Frederic. These two play off each other incredibly well and especially excel at conveying the agitation growing with each of their interactions. As we learn more about these characters, certain revelations make more sense than others, but what we do learn is sure to leave jaws agape. This is a striking feature-film debut for O’Brien as writer and director.
The Righteous is a supernatural thriller that burrows under the skin and sticks with you.
OVERALL RATING: 7/10