Father David (Graham Skipper, the director of Sequence Break) is a devout priest who has never missed a Mass, never eaten meat on a Good Friday and never misses the opportunity to speak on God’s love, including when he invites Terry (Jeremy Gardner, the director of After Midnight and the man who told his mother not to watch this movie) and Lexi (Taylor Zaudtke, Gardner’s real-life wife) to stay during the holidays.
It starts as a simple act of kindness and nothing can go wrong, right? But throw in a game of never have I ever, then have a good man — in his head if perhaps not as much in his heart — get tempted and things are ready to go off the rails.
Director and writer Eric Pennycoff also made Sadistic Intentions, which starred Gardner and Zaudtke, and he puts together a movie with a small cast, a smart script and a mix of madness and black humor as the priest finds himself in a place — and perhaps a position — that he had never prepared for.
I also loved Rigo Garay, who plays RIgo the organ player, perhaps the only character brave enough to tell Father David that he hasn’t had a parishioner attend Mass in weeks and that he’s just been giving sermons to an empty church. But if that’s true, who are the prophetic — and perhaps Satanic — voices who come to confession? And what’s with the young padre’s frequent confessions of his own to that horrifying painting?
There’s an incredible moment near the end where an off-the-deep-end Father David throws on his vestment and rants on the altar while arguing with a red-lit Terry — or a vision of him — before learning that — and this is the biggest spoiler warning I can give — that the real Terry has beaten his wife and snorted David’s mother’s ashes.
I mean, this is a movie that has a priest with his head wrapped up straight out of Threads losing his mind and a last shot that will make you think long after the Christmas carol-scored credits run out.
The Arrow Video blu ray release of The Leech has two commentary tracks, one with with writer/producer/director Eric Pennycoff and producer Scott Smith and the other recorded live at the Chattanooga Film Festival; a virtual Q&A with director Eric Pennycoff and the cast at the 2022 Chattanooga Film Festival; Preaching to the Void, a brand new visual essay exploring The Leech and Pennycoff’s earlier films by critic Anton Bitel; The Voice of Reason, a brand new video interview with Pennycoff and actor Graham Skipper; an introduction and Q&A from the film’s international premiere at FrightFest 2022; exclusive introductions to the film by Pennycoff and Skipper; The Making of The Leech; Rigo’s music video; three short films by Pennycoff, Unfortunate, The Pod and Phase II; a trailer; a reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Haunt Love and an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Julieann Stipidis. You can get it from MVD.
You can also stream this movie on the Arrow player. Visit ARROW to start your 30-day free trial. Subscriptions are available for $4.99 monthly or $49.99 yearly. ARROW is available in the US, Canada, the UK and Ireland on the following Apps/devices: Roku (all Roku sticks, boxes, devices, etc), Apple TV & iOS devices, Android TV and mobile devices, Fire TV (all Amazon Fire TV Sticks, boxes, etc), and on all web browsers at https://www.arrow-player.com.