Tag Archives: religion

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


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.


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.


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.


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.

Deep Space Dive: A Star Trek Deep Space 9 podcast: Is the Space Pope Catholic?

Deep Space Nine‘s handling of religion is unique in Star Trek. While other Trek treats faith with skepticism and suspicion, DS9 depicts a variety of religious characters who explore faith in their own ways. 

Our guest: Anthony Oliveira is a National Magazine award and GLAAD award-winning author (his comics “My Drag Brunch with Loki” and “X:Men Early Thaw” are queer Marvels). His graphic novel, Apocrypha, about queer teens versus the Christian apocalypse, has been acquired by HarperTeen. His first novel, Dayspring, is forthcoming from Strange Light Press in 2023.

He’s online @meakoopa, where he tweets about the arts, politics, and LGBT culture, or on his podcast, The Devil’s Party, as he reads through the classics of Christian literature (including Milton’s poetry and the Gospels) through a queer scholarly lens. https://anthonyoliveira.com

Review: MIDNIGHT MASS masterfully turns religion into a matter of blood and devious faith

Midnight Mass

Religion and horror have never been known to be strange bedfellows. In fact, it can be argued they’re both cut from the same cloth, or at the very least that one can’t exist without the other. Mike Flanagan seems to find refuge in this idea as his latest Netflix series, Midnight Mass, turns to some of the Bible’s most terrifying passages to craft a 7-part story about how faith can turn the religiously devoted into desperate monsters trying to find meaning and purpose.

Midnight Mass is set in Crockett Island, a small piece of land separated from the mainland with a very reserved and quietly weary populace that has embraced their isolated experience. It’s the kind of place where despair and small-town politics breed a kind of people that can be easily manipulated by a charismatic enough figure. The island’s only saving grace is the common ground most of the inhabitants share on Sunday mornings: St. Patrick’s, a small catholic church.

Enter Father Paul (played by Hamish Linklater), a young and impassioned priest that’s ready to do whatever’s needed of him to bring more people into church, capital sins included. Problem is, Father Paul has brought something with him to the island, something monstruous, and it hungers.

While the series’ true north lies in the dangers of religious manipulation dressed as honest devotion, it isn’t content with just settling on the spiritual ailments plaguing the island’s residents. The story also explores grief, loss, the trials of being an outsider in a closed-off community, and alcoholism as problems religion can either alleviate or unintentionally replace with other addictions.

Midnight Mass
Hamish Linklater as Father Paul

Who says people can’t get intoxicated by the promise of receiving God’s most coveted blessings? The metaphor’s there and it’s expertly woven into the fabric of the horror at the series’ core.

Flanagan, who directs each episode and either fully scripts or co-writes them, is largely successful at turning religion into Midnight Mass’ primary source of terror by resorting to fiery Bible verses to create powerful connections between the horrible things that happen on the island and the contents of the holy book.

Father Paul’s sermons invite literal interpretations of some of Catholicism’s most potentially gruesome practices, if taken word for word. Deciphering this allows viewers to slowly piece together some of the story’s secrets and makes for some truly satisfying sequences where horror unfolds in new and inventive ways, especially when it comes to communion.

The setup and the character driven tempo of the story is where Midnight Mass excels. The island’s inhabitants only have themselves to contend with and it’s their willingness to either give in to the church or to question it that establishes the fear and tension surrounding Father Paul’s interest in turning Crockett Island’s inhabitants into fervent servers of God.

Midnight Mass
Samantha Sloyan as Bev Keane

One thing sometimes gets in the way of Midnight Mass’ already dialogue-heavy plot: individual character monologues. People familiar with Flanagan’s work, especially those that saw The Haunting of Hill House (2018), know that the director likes his horror to be sentimental, heavy-handedly so. To achieve that, Flanagan resorts far too often to long-winded monologues about faith, life after death, and the many philosophical meanings of life and they can grind the story to a halt.

In Midnight Mass, monologues surrounding Father Paul’s sermons or those of a particularly sinister character called Bev Keane (played by Samantha Sloyan), a zealous Catholic that can give the Old Testament a run for its money, are particularly interesting and intense. They’re some of the best parts of the story. Monologues relegated to what happens after death or about making amends are the opposite. They make their points early on and then they just keep going.

They open different avenues of conversation and feature some genuinely interesting ideas, but they’re too involved for their own good and they definitely overstay their welcome. Thankfully, the performances behind the characters delivering these monologues are excellent and they help sustain interest as the dialogue stretches on.

Rahul Kohli, who plays Sherrif Hassan, a practicing Muslim that has to navigate the town’s racism while also being the only resident that’s not Catholic in Crockett, does an admirable job of delivering each line with a force that commands attention. The rest of the cast follows suit, but they only alleviate some of the problems inherent in these monologues.

Midnight Mass
(From left to right) Annabeth Gish, Igby Rigney, Annarah Cymone, Kate Siegel, and Rahul Kohli

The story’s reveals, on the other hand, make each development feel monumental and prop up some of its most interesting characters for a series of profoundly heart-wrenching moments that are sure to stick around well after the credits have rolled on the final episode.

Taken in as a whole, Midnight Mass can more accurately be described as a work of horror drama. Flanagan isn’t afraid to spend time with his characters exploring themes that aren’t rooted in terror every step of the way. He prefers his horror slow-cooked, but once certain pieces have been set and the time comes to let the darkness take over, very few filmmakers can conjure up horror as unsettling or as disturbing as the kind in Midnight Mass.

Around the Tubes

Venom #22

It was new comic book day yesterday. What’d everyone get? What’d you like? What’d you dislike? Sound off in the comments below! While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Church Times – Comic books used to inform faith in Exeter diocese – Interesting.

IGN – ABC Hopes to Discuss New Superhero Project with Marvel’s Kevin Feige – Since they have the same parent company… don’t think this will be too difficult to make happen.

The Beat – A Year of Free Comics: Chuck Collins’ Bounce! is hilarious & bizarreBounce! is amazing. Go check it out.


Newsarama – Batman #86
Newsarama – Venom #22

Around the Tubes

Around the Tubes

Panels – Need More Colors in the Rainbow: Jessica Jones and LGBTQ Representation – Warning spoilers, but a good read.

Panels – Read Harder: Comics About a Religion Other Than Your Own – A cool read.

Panels – Jessica Jones and Toxic Masculinity – Another good read.

ICv2 – Barnes & Noble Closing Fewer Stores – Well that’s good news.


Around the Tubes Reviews

Comics Alliance – All-New X-Men #1

Panels – Daredevil #1

Comics Alliance – Daredevil #1

The Rainbow Hub – Gotham Academy #12

The Rainbow Hub – Harley Quinn’s Little Black Book #1

The Rainbow Hub – Robin War #1

Superman as God

I want to welcome our newest contributor Alex Wilson! This is the first, of many articles looking at comic books and religion. You can follow Alex on Twitter at @mralexwilson – The Management

Superman-godSome people find it odd I don’t believe in God but I can believe in Superman. I don’t mean believe the way you believe in aliens. I mean believe the way Gotham believed in Harvey Dent. God doesn’t seem calculated or judicious. God seems petty, jealous, wicked, and even demonic at times.

Superman is transparent. His choices are clean cut, understandable. If Superman sees evil he stops it and minimizes the amount of harm, even to those committing the crime. Superman wants to save everyone, give back to the world. God seems to want to destroy everyone who questions him. If God were in a Superman story arc I would guess God would be a villain and Superman would have to stop Him from flooding the Earth or destroying an entire city He deemed “sinful.”

People often speak of God as being “ineffable,” or beyond our comprehension. When an earthquake levels a small in South America or we can’t find a parking space at the movie theater for a film we’re already missing the previews for, we say God works in mysterious ways. We assume the choices and musing of God are far above our understanding. But humanity has a natural need to make sense even when sense seems vacant. We force square pegs into round holes or round pegs into holes that didn’t exist in the first place.

This is where Superman comes in. He’s super strong, super fast, has an array of powers, and the most important element of all, he can always be trusted to make the right choice.

Joshua Hale Fialkov, writer for DC and Marvel comics, once told me in an interview, “…DC characters are who you wish you could be…”

I find this to be especially true when it comes to Superman. The character, on our planet, is practically unstoppable. He can do anything he wishes as a being. If Superman decided one day to destroy the world, there would be nothing to stop him. Superman, when first discovering his powers, had this choice, to become absolutely evil or absolutely good. He chose to do “the right thing” and save lives instead of taking them.

Superman, unlike any god (biblical or otherwise,) is effable. I can see the thought process of Superman. He looks at situations with non-human eyes and makes choices based on who is being taken advantage of and who is taking advantage.

This makes me think of God as someone who is trying to dup the world. Super villains are mysterious, calculated, and most of all have little to no regard for human life. This is what the biblical god seems like to me, a being of unimaginable power who has little regard for human life, taking it at his fancy.

Superman seems to be this more human substitute for God, a more understandable and rational being with few to none of the petty human character flaws the biblical god seems to possess. He seems petty, jealous, and egotistical. If you cross God once, He brings the hammer of Thor down on you with no warning. Superman forgives. Superman has mercy. Superman won’t kill you but try to save you.

Superman is, in the end, God. The character may not have started out with the intent of being used for a savior but he has evolved into one over time.

Comic books have this odd reverse in identity. When most mediums begin they start out noble with artistic intent and integrity then slowly cascade into selling out and becoming more mainstream palatable. Comic books have done the opposite. They started off as this childlike medium, growing up with its readers instead of trying to collect new ones. Comic books now, over the past 30 years, have started to garner more and more respect and integrity. Have you read any Captain America from its early years? It’s almost strictly communist hunting. The book is practically a more palatable form of propaganda. Now Captain America is a character with dimension and more personality than simply the perfect American soldier.

This is no different than Superman. He started off as a character for children but has evolved into a symbol for not simply American but the world at large. One great example of Superman mythology is Red Son, an alternate universe story where Superman lands in communist Russia instead of capitalist America. In this universe Superman still rises to his level of God, making the right choices for the world he was born into.

Superman has become not simply an American symbol but an inadvertently religious symbol for many. He grew into a world where people put their faith in a God who can’t be seen and whose choices can’t always be rationalized. I feel many have taken solace in Superman and other heroes as a substitute for the world many of us cannot predict. We still have a desire to make the chaos into something understandable but we end up trying to put together a puzzle that wasn’t there in the first place.


Church Hands Out Disturbing Comic Books

It looks like there’s another report of a church handing out questionable comic books to children. WIVB of Buffalo, New York has a story they’re working on about some comics handed out in the area. The Evangelical Baptist Chuch in the Lovejoy neighborhood are the culprits.

The story was big enough to be a part of the channel’s Call 4 Action after an upset mother contacted them after she found her 7 year old reading one of the comics. The comic in question featured a dad killing mom while he’s drunk before being saved by the church. Showing where women stand in the eyes of this particular church.

We brought you a story earlier about questionable comics being handed out by a Evangelical Christian on Halloween.

Florida Mother Upset Over Halloween Comics

KTNV of Florida has a story about a mother who was upset over the comic books her kids received on Halloween. The comics by Chick Publications could only be described as comics for Evangelical Christians. The two comics the children received are The Sky Lighter about an Islamic boy who blows himself up in a crowd of people and The Visitors about a pair of Mormons who visit a home and deliver some controversial comments.

The company was created by Jack Chick, who has a history of controversy. His comics have been described by the Los Angeles Magazine as “equal parts hate literature and fire-and-brimstone sermonizing” For example the comics accuse Roman Catholics, Freemasons, Muslims and many other groups of murder and conspiracies.

Chick Publications says the comics are taken from scripture in the King James Bible and they are not meant to be offensive. The company is clearly anti-Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, and homosexual and promotes a pro-life stance.

So, was this appropriate to hand out to children trick-or-treating? Sound off below with your thoughts.

Comic Books and Religion in Atlanta (American Academy of Religion conference)

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If you’re in the Atlanta area this weekend….

Religion and Popular Culture Group

Monday 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Location: Marriott Marquis – M103-104
Comic books have long supplied popular culture with a colorful stream of serialized superhero adventure stories. Although originally targeted at adolescent audiences, contemporary comics and their kin command global audiences of fans from all ages, and offer a remarkable range of genres and subject matter. These include works of considerable artistry and narrative sophistication that often directly or indirectly address religious themes. This paper session will survey a range of recent scholarship on the religious content of comics, manga, anime and graphic novels. It will include presentations on the use of manga by new religious movements, the allegorization of religious debates, the use of religious language, emerging subgenres, and religiously-informed social criticism.

A. David Lewis, Boston University

Ever-ending Battle: The Superhero Afterlife Subgenre and the Rupture of Narrative Character

If superheroes form a narrative genre, they likely have their own subgenres, and there is sufficient material to argue for the constitution of a superhero afterlife subgenre—stories of superheroes taking place in Heaven, Hell, Sheol, Purgatory, and other hereafter existences. In reviewing the applicable comics, it appears that the superhero afterlife subgenre allows nearly any depiction of selfhood, thereby allowing for no unified understanding of it. Collectively, no form of selfhood is prohibited in this subgenre; likewise, no form is validated. The sum of all these characterizations results in no consensus concerning representations of selfhood. This is not a weakness of the subgenre or the medium. It is evidence of a larger conflict—a rupture. A chief strength of the comic book medium is its sensitivity for overt representation, as Hillary Chute (PMLA) called it, “its attention to its seams.” These comics visually portray the deceased self as indistinct from the living self. If genre is a space for negotiating selfhood, this consistent incoherence of self more likely reflects a difficulty in the reader, in one’s expectations for selfhood versus character’s embodiment of it.

WisCon Rescinds Invite to Elizabeth Moon

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WisCon which bills itself as a “feminist science fiction” convention has rescinded it’s Guest of Honor invitation to science fiction author Elizabeth Moon.  The reason for the cancellation of the invitation was due to a blog post where she covered 9/11, religion and remarks about the Islamic community center in lower Manhattan.  All pretty touchy subjects.

Organizers had expressed concern over the post but decided to rescind the invitation.

The convention will be held in Madison, Wisconsin in May, 2011.

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