REVIEW: The Heretics
– By MovieCritic NextDoor
Getting kidnapped by a sacrificial satanic cult is the sort of thing that can ruin your whole life. Just ask Gloria (Nina Kiri), who is still struggling with the fallout five years later. Still, Gloria is one of the lucky ones, since this particular satanic cult has a weird idea of sacrifice — they killed themselves rather than the girl they kidnapped, leaving her covered in blood and completely freaked out, but alive.
Now Gloria attends group therapy sessions with other survivors of abuse, and also works at the soup kitchen run by her local church. Otherwise she lives quietly with her mother Ruth (Nina Richmond) and enjoys spending time with her girlfriend of almost exactly one year, Joan (Jorja Cadence), who bears the scars from her own abusive relationship. Joan still has some serious anger issues and probably shouldn’t be carrying that knife, but she does seem genuinely very fond of Gloria. It’s not such a bad life, but Gloria still can’t help but wish things had gone differently.
But the cultists did have a plan beyond merely traumatizing their victim for the rest of her life, and now that plan is in motion again. Gloria was kidnapped during the Locust Moon, and now another such moon is about to rise, signalling the next phase of the ritual to summon a powerful demon. The Locust Moon isn’t really a thing as far as I can tell, but it should be. Now Gloria finds herself captured again, by Thomas (Ry Barrett), and taken to an isolated cabin in the woods (of course) to await her fate. By the next sunrise it will all be over, Thomas assures her, but “over” can mean a lot of things.
It’s a somewhat gruesome movie, and not just from the blood — the ritual does horrible things to poor Gloria and she spends half the film covered in some kind of goo. But it isn’t quite the standard ‘cultists trying to summon the forces of darkness’ trope, and I liked the slightly different take they had on it. Thomas is both sinister and sympathetic, struggling to do what needs to be done even though he isn’t always sure what that is.
Both Thomas and Joan are fascinating characters, and while Gloria is stuck with the generally thankless role of victim she manages to occasionally rise above the usual limitations of that part. Add a solid script, a steady build of tension, and a couple of nifty little plot twists and you’ve got a four out of five star movie. And never underestimate those focused, fanatical cultists — they’re always playing the long game.