Friday, June 10, 2016
The Veil (2016)
DIRECTOR: Phil Joanou
WRITER: Robert Ben Garant
Sarah Hope was only five years of age when the cult that she was raised in commits a mass suicide. Twenty-five years later and still recovering from the events of her past. She receives a letter from a film crew who hope to document her story. She agrees to help the crew with their documentary as she still requires answers as to why she was the only survivor of the mass suicide. She decides to return to the compound where the event took place. After the first night of footage has wrapped, strange things start to happen to the film crew. Is Heaven's Veil still haunted?
The whole psychology behind what makes a cult tick is one of those things that I find inherently fascinating. I've always been intrigued by documentaries and books on the subject of cults such as the most famous, Jonestown or the Aum Shinrikyo who went and coordinated five separate Sarin Gas attacks across the Tokyo Subway system. I find cults extremely interesting, but at the same time, they are exceptionally scary as they are rooted in reality and do happen. Most of the crimes committed by these cults and their followers make most horror movies seem tame by comparison.
I went into The Veil not knowing a thing about the film. From the poster, It could've been a dark slasher set in the 'Deep South' for all I knew, judging by it's cover. I was unaware that this was a 'cult based' horror movie. I wasn't even aware that Jessica Alba, Thomas Jane or Lily Rabe were the three leads. Coming from a studio such as Universal, I'm shocked that they simply dropped this movie onto streaming services instead of trying to make it's budget back in box office even if the reviews ended up being negative.
After watching The Veil, the biggest positive I can say about this film is that with all these cult based horror movies out there. This was the first time that I've personally seen a film try and add a supernatural twist to the story. There may be cult movies out there that do this, but I haven't seen one myself that isn't rooted in some form of 'Satanic' worship. This started off rooted in reality and quickly descends into a story of soul transference. While not movies about a cult, 'Skeleton Key' and 'Seven Souls' are two that I could possibly reference regarding the same themes, only this movie wasn't as good as Skeleton Key but more enjoyable than Seven Souls.
I was enjoying The Veil at the start when the cult themes were at the forefront of the story. Once the supernatural element kicks in, I found myself enjoying the movie film less and less. I mentioned this as a positive in the sense that it felt like it tried to be a little different and slightly original compared to the straight-up cult based movies like The Sacrament. However, adding these supernatural elements makes things descend into stupidity really quickly. It doesn't help that our lead is quite possibly the dumbest character in the film and doesn't leave when things get bad.
[SPOLIERS] The twist was one of the biggest issues for me with this film. I've already mentioned above the movies that I compared to The Veil. Once it's revealed that the cult are 'soul eaters' and can transfer into other bodies. A lot of the flashback scenes that involved the preparation for the eventual transfer seemed to not match up in the end. I found the twist had several plot holes. I like that the ending of the film wasn't exactly a happy one. I also liked that we get a pretty cool epilogue, and speech from Thomas Jane but many things made me question the decision of why they waited for twenty-five years to plan their world dominance.
Now let's talk about The Veil's non-existent scare factor. The movie tries to deliver on tension, and ghostly jump scares but every moment that it throws a rotting corpse or flying table at the audience, it's built up to be very predictable. You can see it coming from a mile away. It even tries to throw out the old horror trope by using animals to scare with quick cuts and loud, bombastic noises. None of these attempted creepy moments ended up landing for me, and we basically have a film that has zero thrills.
Another element of The Veil that I found completely unnecessary was all that colour saturation within the film. The movie is saturated with so much grey and blue that it's just felt unwarranted. The colour saturation works in some films like the Underworld series, but for this movie, I found it rather cold. The movie ended up looking dull and lifeless. I know a dark looking film is suited for the genre of horror, but this just took it overboard, and I sadly wasn't into it. A nitpick on my end perhaps but it's just overly noticeable, and it becomes too much after a while.
Lastly, the acting needs a mention. I found Jessica Alba to be the weakest link within The Veil. The writers didn't give her character many intelligent things to do which end up making her come across as stupid. Lily Rabe is solid in her role. Must be all those years on American Horror Story where she has honed her Horror chops. Thomas Jane is the big standout here. He delivers a performance where he chews the scenery as a villainous cult leader. His final speech is epic and deserves a point alone for that. The guy can command the screen, and he really owns the film.
DEATH TOLL: 18 (On-Screen) + 45 in a Mass Suicide.
BLOOD AND GORE:
- Someone is nailed to a tree. (Spikes rammed into hands and feet).
- A screwdriver is slammed into someone's throat.
- A mass suicide scene.
- Someone is held underwater and drowned in a river.
- A wrench is used to bash in someone's skull.
- Lethal injections to the neck.
- Someone is shot.
- A bloody car crash.
- A hand goes through a corpse. Results are gooey.
The Veil starts off quite interestingly. I am a fan of cult based horror movies and cult related stories in general. So while I found the adding of supernatural elements to be a somewhat original idea, they weren't executed very well. The execution of the film feels poorly done. The Veil also lacks the terrifying nature of a cult. The acting from Lily Rabe and Thomas Jane are the standout elements of the film. Sadly Jessica Alba is left to not do much at all. Overall, I was left disappointed with The Veil.