The Righteous (2022) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

The Righteous (2022) Review

Horrorific content by christina on June 14th, 2022 | Movie Review | Canadian, Slow Burn, Religion, Drama, Thriller, Mystery

Add The Righteous (2022) to your Watchlist

Add to Watchlist

You need to login or register to add this movie to your horror watchlist.

It's about a grieving former priest who is confronted by a mysterious man after the untimely death of his daughter.

The Righteous was directed by Mark O'Brien and stars Mark O'Brien (Ready or Not, The Dark Stranger), Henry Czerny (Ready or Not, Buckout Road, and Fido), Mimi Kuzyk (Bone Daddy, The Kiss), Mayko Nguyen (Buckout Road), Kate Corbett (The Silence), Nigel Bennett (The Corridor), and Adrianna Barkey.

The Righteous (2022) Review

The Righteous, directed by Mark O'Brien, is a film about grief, responsibility, and atonement. It is filmed in black and white and consists mainly of dialogue.

The film follows the story of Frederic Mason, a former priest who left the brotherhood to marry Ethel and raise a little girl. Ethel is religious and persevering, and their late-in-life marriage feels both stable and fragile simultaneously.

The film begins after a tragedy, with the death of the couple's young daughter. The details of her death are not revealed until later in the movie. The screenplay withholds information, gradually revealing relevant details as the film progresses. This causes the movie to become a type of treasure hunt, especially during the beginning when the connections and events come together through talking and awkward pauses. It is only when Frederic's former priest friend Graham and Doris, a tired, grieving young woman who came to give her respects, start talking that the details begin to appear.

However, this is all groundwork for the appearance of a mysterious young man in the middle of the night. His face is hidden in darkness, his foot is wounded strangely, and he refuses to answer even simple questions. Yet, despite Ethel's protests, Frederic allowed the man inside and then lied to the police when they arrived.

From here on, The Righteous turns into a battle of wits spoken. There is never a question that there is more to the stranger than what is seen on the surface: not only is the truth about his connection to Frederic the film's primary mystery, but he appears to have two distinct personalities. Half of the time, the young man is innocent, naive, and wounded; the rest of the time, he is sharp-tongued, accusatory, and prone to making bold statements.

The last element is essential, given Frederic's lost faith after his daughter's death. The way Aaron Smith (as he is eventually named) responds with confidence and authority, like a Sunday sermon, is critical. Aaron is skilled at manipulating language to get Frederic's attention. In the process, Aaron also embodies everything that Frederic was and has lost.

The two men's discussion is captured in a series of intense, short conversations across a couple of days. The black-and-white visuals add to the tension and importance as the men argue about religious matters that could considerably impact one person's soul. It's an exciting decision by O'Brien, mainly since the religious references and the single color palette immediately make one think of Charles Laughton's 1955 American film, The Night of the Hunter.

The Righteous also asks its tough audience questions about morality and philosophy, which become even more complex once all the film's secrets are revealed. Viewers are left to ponder the problematic realities of who (or what) the characters are. It's tough stuff, emotionally exhausting, amplified by excellent performances from all three leads, but notably from O'Brien, who is doing revelatory work.

O'Brien gives an excellent performance as Aaron, a complex character who can be both loud and threatening or quiet and reserved. At the film's beginning, Ethel is afraid of Aaron, but after spending some time with him, she warms up to him, and they become friends. Aaron loves to play games and challenge people, and he particularly enjoys catching Father McMahon in lies and wordplay.

The plotline of The Righteous is complex but not unpredictable. The film centers around two men who must confront their pasts and face the consequences of their actions. The story is more concerned with the character's emotional journey than it is with surprising the viewer. It's dark and absorbing, slow and deliberate. Then it all comes together in a burst of violence and an unexpectedly spiritual final shot.

Worth Watching? 

This film is not flashy or aggressive but unsettling and thought-provoking. If this is what O'Brien can do with his debut, I eagerly anticipate his future work.

The Righteous Review (2022) Worth Watching? - ALL HORROR Tweet it

Would it Kill You to Subscribe?

Get horror news, reviews and movie recommendations every Friday!

We respect your email privacy