★★★★ out of ★★★★★
Directed by Luke Boyce
A peepshow dancer and a religious zealot must try to work together during the apocalypse or suffer abominable fates in this wild eighties-set chiller.
If you have ever wondered if overzealous religious fanatics and people with decidedly different views than those folks could ever find common ground, director Luke Boyce’s darkly comic horror feature Revealer serves up a thrilling take on the question. Drenched in colorful neon and dripping with atmosphere, this shocker is riveting all the way up to its jaw-dropping finale.
In 1987 Chicago, Angie Pitarelli (Caito Aase, who won Panic Fest’s Best Actress–Feature Film award for her performance) is picking up an extra shift as a peepshow dancer at the titular adult entertainment business where she works, passing gung ho Christian protester Sally Mewbourne (Shaina Schrooten) on her way in, as she often does. Sally makes no bones about letting Angie know what she thinks of the dancer’s work, and Angie isn’t shy about her thoughts on Sally’s belief system.
When some occurrences escalate from odd to deadly, Angie and Sally find themselves trapped together in Revealer, with the pair initially on opposite sides of the unbreakable peepshow window. As Sally insists that the apocalypse has started, Angie finds it hard to believe, but there is an evil presence that makes itself known, and the pair find themselves having to try to overcome their differences to escape the situation.
Boyce, working from a screenplay by Michael Moreci and Tim Seeley (with Boyce receiving a story credit), has crafted a superb independent feature full of suspense, wicked humor, and stunning surprises. The dialogue is razor sharp and realistic, and the characters are written and acted in such a way that even if viewers would normally side with one character or the other, it is easy to root for both of them. Aase and Schrooten have tremendous chemistry together, endowing their characters with energy and spirit.
The special effects are solid; without giving too much away, our heroines are put to the test against some creepy critters, and the creature effects are quite fun. A sizzling score and solid sound design add to the ambiance of the film.
Boyce has an impressive behind-the-camera resume, and his first feature at the helm is a corker. He balances the fear with the funny admirably, and gets the most from his strong female protagonists — thanks in great part to the fine turns from Aase and Schrooten. The world building that starts with a tiny adult business and escalates from there is remarkable. Revealer deserves a wide audience, and it will be exciting to see what fear fare Boyce comes up with next.
Review by Joseph Perry
Revealer screened as part of Panic Fest, which ran April 28–May 8, 2022, in Kansas City, with a virtual option. For more information, visit https://panicfilmfest.com/.