|Reviews & Columns
TV on DVD
Reviews by Studio
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
DVD Talk Radio
The M.O.D. Squad
DVD Talk Forum
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
Righteous (Special Edition), The
Written by, directed by and starring Mark O'Brien, 2021's The Righteous follows an older man named Frederic Mason (Henry Czerny) who, along with his devoted wife Ethel (Mimi Kuzyk), still grieves the loss of their adopted daughter. Frederic has spent most of his adult life working as a priest and left the church to marry Ethel. Losing the girl has caused him to have a crisis of faith that is proving quite difficult for him to deal with.
Their lives take a strange twist when a young man named Aaron Smith (played by O'Brien) shows up at their home with an injured foot and in need of help in the middle of the night. Although Ethel isn't keen on the idea at first, the Masons, who live in vert remote, woodsy area, show him the Christian charity he needs and welcome the man into their home. As they care for him and start to get to know him, Frederic starts to see in this mission a pathway to redeem himself and reconcile his religious beliefs, but when the police come to the home looking for him, Frederic lies to them and tells them that he hasn't seen him.
The duality of Aaron's personality, calm and collected one minute and then acerbic and almost mean the next, soon proves that he is more than just a random stranger passing by and as his strange connection to Frederic develops further, the Masons, and in turn the audience, are left wondering who he really is.
Shot entirely on location in Newfoundland, Canada, and shot in stark black and white, The Righteous is a well-made slow burn picture that takes its time with the pacing but ultimately builds to a satisfyingly tense conclusion. The score from Andrew Staniland is also excellent and does a lot to help build mood and atmosphere and add to the film's sense of existential dread. It's also a very dialogue driven film that is as interested in exploring the concept of grief and loss as it is in delivering scares and suspense, though we get a good amount of that as well. While the film almost immediately conjures up comparisons to Charles Laughton's film Night Of The Hunter, O'Brien puts his own spin on things. The Eastern Canada locations obviously have a very different vibe and there are significant differences in the plot and concept, but the vibe that is shared between the two movies is, at times, hard to ignore. Thematically, at times, it also feels like O'Brien is trying to channel Bergman, and the stark, desolate landscapes that the movie uses as its backdrop can, at times, also harken back to some of that director's pictures, The Virgin Spring in particular.
The acting from Henry Czerny is really strong. He's very well cast as Frederic, we feel his plight and his inner conflicts and we also understand his frustrations. He and Mimi Kuzyk, who is just as good in her role, have a very believe able chemistry together. Their marriage feels strong but also, given what they've went through, understandably vulnerable at times. O'Brien is also very good as Aaron, able to go from kind and appreciative to demanding and obtuse at the drop of a hat, and quite effectively at that.
The plot might be vague in spots but for a movie that builds most of its tension and horror from little more than conversations, The Righteous works surprisingly well. Strong productions values and very good performances add to the movie's positive qualities. Not a perfect film, but indeed a very good one.
Arrow Video brings The Righteous to region A Blu-ray on a 50GB disc with the ninety-six minute feature taking up over under 21GBs of space and framed at 2.39.1 widescreen. Shot digitally, the black and white image is excellent. Detail is strong throughout and obviously there are no problems with any dirt, damage or debris. The black and white picture has great contrast with deep black levels, clean whites and a nice grey scale. There are no obvious compression artifacts to complain about and overall, this looks really strong.
Audio options are handled well by the disc's 24-bit DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track, though an optional 24-bit LPCM 2.0 Stereo track is also provided. Optional subtitles are available in English only. If you've got the hardware to handle it, the 5.1 mix is definitely the way to go. There's good depth here and impressive range evident throughout quite a bit of the movie. The score is spread out nicely as is the effects work. Dialogue stays clean throughout and as you'd expect for such a recent production, there are no problems with any hiss or distortion.
Extras on the disc start off with an audio commentary by writer, director and actor Mark O'Brien and editor Spencer Jones. It covers all the bases, going over the ideas for the film, the cinematography, the locations, casting the film, working with the different cast and crew members on the production and lots more.
Arrow has also provided a selection of cast and crew interviews, starting with Mark O'Brien who spends thirty-four minutes in front of the camera talking about his work on the picture. It covers a lot of the same ground as the commentary but if commentary tracks aren't your thing, this is a more concise way to get a lot of that info. Producer Mark O'Neill is up next, with a seven minute piece that talks about how he came on board to work on the film, collaborating with O'Neill and his thoughts on the movie. Actor Henry Czerny spend seventeen minutes talking about how he came to get the part on the movie, working with his co-stars, what it was like making the picture and the film's director. A seventeen minutes piece with actors Mimi Kuzyk and Kate Corbett covers similar topics, albeit from their unique perspectives. Editor Spencer Jones speaks for eleven minutes about what went into his work in the post production process, while cinematographer Scott McClellan speaks for ten minutes about getting the movie's specific look down and what was required of him to do that. Lastly, we get a nine minute piece with production designer Jason Clarke where he talks about some of what went into his work on the picture.
A Roundtable Discussion with Mark O'Brien and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett and Chad Villella of Radio Silence runs a whopping seventy-three minutes. It covers a lot of ground, from the origin of the project to the writing process to getting the production rolling, what it was like making the movie, who did what on the production and lots more. There's also a thirty-two minute Stage Presentation And Q&A with Mark O'Brien and Henry Czerny recorded at the film's World Premiere at The Fantasia Festival from August of 2021, while the Grimmfest 2021 live-streamed Q&A with Mark O'Brien runs for twenty minutes, both of these cover a lot of the same ground but for those who really went to get into the nitty-gritty of the making of the movie, here it is.
The disc also offers the option to listen to the movie's original soundtrack which, when engaged, plays out over a selection of stills from the movie. There's also a theatrical trailer for the feature included on the disc as well as menus and chapter selection options.
This release also includes a reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Grant Boland and Oink Creative as well as a slipcover and, for the first pressing of this release, a full color, illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Sean Hogan in addition to credits for the feature and for the disc.
The Righteous is imperfect, but impressive enough most of the time to make it worth a watch for fans of slow burn horror. The Blu-ray edition from Arrow Video looks and sounds excellent and is stacked with extra features. All in all, this is a strong package for a decent film. Recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.