2 out of 5 stars

Sartre’s suggestion that “Hell is other people” might be borne in mind when trying to make sense of Revealer’s ambiguous final moments, as it’s unclear whether Angie (Caito Aase) and Sally (Shaina Schrooten) are heading to the Pearly Gates or the pit below. It does, however, seem pretty likely they’re going to one or the other, as few movies (at least outside overtly Christian cinema) have taken the Day of Judgement quite so literally.

Hell could equally well be oneself, of course, and we first see a TV preacher promising fire and brimstone to sinners, then the same preacher (this time in person) confined in a red-lit tunnel with his own image continuing to rant on a TV set in the background. He seems enraged, then his anger gives way to fear and pleading; surely he deserved salvation?

This prologue might be a cautionary tale or might suggest a happier ending for Angie and Sally, but they’re certainly not friends when the film introduces them outside the Revealers club in 1987 Chicago. Angie works as a stripper there, while Sally, in her comically huge glasses, is part of a Christian group protesting the sinful business.

“You are a foul person,” Sally tells Angie. “Thank you so much!” Angie replies. The club’s manager, Ray (Bishop Stevens), describes Sally as a “low-rent Tammy Faye [Bakker]”, one of many spot-on lines in a screenplay not lacking wit or observation at specific moments but sometimes struggling to maintain interest in the bigger narrative picture.

Angie works in a peep show booth, and the way she’s judged first by the Christian protesters outside and then by the procession of male customers is well-conveyed through a montage sequence (and later referred to more explicitly). Shut away in the booth, again with a red light, she’s also oblivious to the growing storm of the Apocalypse beginning outside… but she has to confront its reality when Sally takes refuge in the club.

They seem trapped, and the film spends far too long on the logistics of their fruitless escape attempts (a door, an interior window, a ceiling grille leading to a vent), so nobody in the audience is at this point really going to care exactly how they escape. The end of the world being rather more interesting. And there’s no rhythm of advances and setbacks to build the tension in this, the weakest section of Revealer.

Eventually, however, a tunnel beneath the floor is discovered and off they set. Inevitably (in filmic terms), a closeness develops between them—though for a long time it’s mixed with prickliness—as they talk and contend with phallic snakes, the disembodied voice of Angie’s 12-year-old nephew, a demon that might have been scarier left unshown, and most importantly the gap in their values, which a late confession from Sally does something to bridge.

The convenient tunnel network also contains a conveniently discarded map, equally convenient electric lights, and a symbolic fork, while Sally’s knowledge of ‘The Book of Revelation’ helps them figure out what’s going on outside, one trumpet blast at a time.

The script doesn’t always pass logical scrutiny: when Sally has trouble getting through a hole in a wall we’ve already seen is flimsy, why doesn’t Angie simply use her crowbar to make it bigger? Why does Sally worry about stitches for Angie’s wound if she genuinely believes the end of the world is impending?

More importantly, the whole film is visually incredibly dark, and the layout of the strip club a little confusing (as are the tunnels, although they’re meant to be), so it’s not always terribly easy to see what’s going on. This may be a blessing where the VFX are concerned, but in any case it puts the emphasis far more on Angie and Sally’s dialogue and the relationship developing between them.

And it’s here, rather than in the horror-adventure elements of the movie, that Revealer succeeds. The chemistry of the pair is palpable; at times the atmosphere between them changes a little too quickly for plausibility, but some of this can be explained by Sally’s conflicting attitudes toward Angie, and both leads deliver performances which are slightly exaggerated without being caricatured. Angie has some nicely pithy lines, and Sally has a great beating-the-monster-to-death moment in front of a neon sign flashing ADULT PLEASURES as well as an effective big confessional scene.

Stevens is fun, too, in a much smaller part (the three have the only roles of any significance), and the score by Alex Cuervo doesn’t rely on cliché or excessive drama.

There are things to like in Revealer, then, notably a strong idea and creditable central performances. Whether any of them are developed enough to justify 86 minutes is another question—at times it feels the material is crying out to be a one-off TV episode of something like Black Mirror—and when the pace is slow, it truly drags. 


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Cast & Crew

director: Luke Boyce.
writers: Luke Boyce, Michael Moreci & Tim Seeley.
Caito Aase, Shaina Schrooten & Bishop Stevens.