27 Jan Popcorn in My Beard: The Veil(2016)
Imagine if as a child you were subjected to drink the proverbial kool-aid and witness a religious cult mass suicide, only to end up being the lone survivor . Now imagine as an adult you’re asked to back to the secluded compound this cult called home and recount your experiences with a film crew in tow.
The Veil(2016) stars Jessica Alba, Lily Rabe, and most notably Thomas Jane of underappreciated, Wild Turkey guzzling Punisher(2004)fame. Alba plays the documentary (an infomercial) filmmaker Maggie Price who convinces Sarah Hope (Rabe), the lone survivor of the mass suicide of Heaven’s Veil, your typical religious cult, to return after claiming evidence of never before seen footage of the cult’s activities. Apon returning the Heaven’s Veil, Sarah collapses and then goes through a series of flashbacks and hallucinations. SPOILERS INCOMING! The group ends up finding old VHS tapes showing “experiments” conducted at the direction of the cult leader, Jim Jacobs. Ole Jimbo is on a mission to find eternal life by concocting a drug loosely based on alchemy and religious voodoo magic. This drug he claims allows him to cross over to the ethereal plain and he is able to rejoin the land of the living through an antidote also of his own design.
This film takes viewers on a gingerly paced stroll through the discovery of Sarah’s past ultimately slamming us right in the face with the truth of what happened the day of the mass suicide at Heaven’s Veil. All the followers with the except of Sarah were administered the sprit drug and before they could be brought back, the FBI and local law enforcement show up and screw Jim’s plans all up! What is left at Heaven’s Veil is a bunch of angry cult spirits ready to wreck havoc on the only real visitors in 25 years…how hospitable of them.
The Veil suffers only from the pace of the unfolding story. The use of flashbacks driven either by Sarah’s visions or VHS tape lay too many bread crumbs along the way that by the time you reach the third act and ultimately the climax of the film, you’ve already checked out and starting planning your grocery shopping list for the next day. Director Phil Joanou and writer Robert Ben Garant masterfully intertwine a few horror genre staples with the possessions, religious cult, and found footage mechanics. Even though it reeks of big studio horror flick, The Veil does provide a well structure story and a few modest jump scares.