Director: Leroy Kincadie
Writer: Leroy Kincaide
Cast: Bethan Waller, Johnny Fleming
Producers: Chloe Chudasama, Leroy Kincaide
Music: Edward Durcan
Cinematographer: Leroy Kincaide
Editor: Leroy Kincaide
Running time: 107mins
What’s the story: When she begins suffering from sleep paralysis, medical student Lucy (Waller) believes she has been targeted by a dark spirit. Boyfriend Ben (Fleming) is not so convinced.
What’s the verdict: In The Last Rite, an innocent heroine transforms into a violent, dead language spouting hellion when she unwittingly makes herself a vessel for a demonic entity. What is her boyfriend to do other than tie her to a bed and call a priest? Safe to say that Leroy Kincaide’s debut feature is comfortable snuggling up to The Exorcist.
Staving off déjà vu is Kincaide’s inclusion of sleep paralysis alongside the diabolical goings on. Taking his lead from the same material explored in Rodney Ascher’s documentary The Nightmare, memorable scenes depict the terror of being caught between plains of consciousness. Reality merges with panicked imaginings, and in these sequences Kincaide (who also produced, shot, and edited the film) proves himself a director of promise.
He also scores efficient chills with a masculine shadow figure (frequently seen by actual sufferers of sleep paralysis), who haunts Lucy’s waking life as much as her dreams.
A shame then that The Last Rite shifts from this to familiar demonic possession tropes. Not helping are variable performances from the support cast and a leisurely runtime. An intriguing notion that the demon is turning the men in Lucy’s life toxic is teased, but not developed.
Emerging as the the film’s ace is Bethan Waller. Her performance carries the movie, moving from haunted, to horrified, to horrifying. Waller can do the bed-bound baddie, but is best when conveying the suffocating fear of sleep paralysis, or Lucy’s escalating paranoia.
A horror film solid enough to make you check out what both Kincaide and Waller move onto next.
The Last Rite available to own and rent from April 4th.