Movie Review: Revealer sends a stripper and a religious protester to the end of the world

Revealer

Stripped down to its bare essentials, the Apocalypse is ultimately an overblown shaming session levied against humanity. Trumpets signal the new stages of shaming scheduled throughout the event and demons spew out from their underground caverns to give everyone a taste of their disdain. That it’s also known as Judgment Day is just icing on the cake.

Director Luke Boyce’s Revealer, currently streaming on Shudder, certainly takes this to heart as it forces a tense pairing of personalities with firm convictions on morality just as the Apocalypse unleashes its opening salvo. It’s a movie that seems to become more relevant every single day after it’s very recent release, especially in terms of dividing lines and Supreme Court decisions.

Revealer follows a stripper called Angie (Caito Aase) and a religious protestor called Sally (Shaina Schrooten), both stuck in a peepshow booth as the world ends outside. They each stand on opposite sides of a spectrum that’s divided groups of people since time immemorial: religion. Their anticipated animosity towards each other is present from the very beginning and has no qualms about being as brutal and piercing as possible every time any type of judgment is levied against the other, even after an unsteady alliance forms between them as demons and devils start making their way into the sex shop they’re held up in.

Comic fans should have a vested interest in this movie given the resumés of the screenwriting duo behind it, Tim Seeley and Michael Moreci. As two of the most versatile voices in the industry, Seeley and Moreci bring a finely tuned and honest sensibility to character creation that features the same approach to economical but precise dialogue writing present in comic book storytelling. This is perhaps most present in how the movie contemplates the idea of passing judgment onto others, on what lies in the very act of it and how difficult it is to let go of prejudices even when good intentions guide the conversation.

Revealer

The story’s success largely depends on Angie and Sally’s interactions and how genuine they feel as the Apocalypse threatens to burst their respective bubbles. The movie doesn’t only achieve this but does so by never allowing one of the characters to overpower the other with their worldviews.

Seeley and Moreci inject a fair amount of nuance into their dysfunctional pairing, promoting understanding rather than moral superiority. It’s not about whose worldview reigns supreme. It’s about finding a way to understand each other while also being able to challenge preconceived notions of right and wrong.

Boyce does a good job of giving these two characters enough unencumbered space for their conversations to take place while also creating a strong sense of dread as one particular devil sets its eyes on their souls. The story essentially takes place in just a handful of locations, all enclosed and claustrophobic. It’s theatrical in its approach and it maximizes the use of the limited budget in outstanding ways, putting the focus on character rather than on fire and brimstone. The Apocalypse is ever-present, but it’s mostly unseen. What’s impressive is that it is always felt. Therein lies the success of Revealer.

Caito Asse and Shaina Schrooten as the stripper and the religious protestor, respectively, melt into their roles and give each other more than enough emotion to play off each other. They go from total dislike for each other to brief bouts of understanding constantly and the effect is one that their performances carry through well.

Revealer

Given how heavy handed the script is though, mostly for good, the performances do sometimes fall into exaggeration and it can play against them. The humor doesn’t always hit the mark either, but not enough to distract from the story. It should be said that the movie isn’t an exercise in realism, but that some exchanges between Angie and Sally could’ve been reigned back a bit for more impact.

What we do get see of the Apocalypse, almost entirely in the form of demonic creatures, is memorable and plays to the fears and worries Angie and Sally argue about in their conversations. One particular creature stands out as a kind of Pinhead figure from the Hellraiser movies in its sense of presence and serious menace, and it helps propel a fair bit of tension and fear in what’s a very dialogue-heavy script. Other lesser demons also give Angie and Sally a few horror scenes that help to build their characters in surprising ways.

Revealer came out just as the American Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1972 ruling went on to protect the freedom of choice on abortions. In its wake, the national divide has widened, bringing to light more forceful forms of disagreements that aren’t that dissimilar from the kinds explored in the movie. This might be a small note that definitely requires further exploration, but the context in which the movie finds itself in does turn it into an urgent watch. It offers different ways to go about contemplating the things that keep us apart and to better gauge the impact of our moral judgments. It’s something to think about and Revealer definitely helps.

Revealer

Boyce, Seeley, and Moreci have a very confrontational horror movie in Revealer. It has two compelling characters that drive home a debate that seems more necessary with each passing day. It might just be that the Apocalypse is exactly what we need to put things into perspective and come together.