Film Reviews

The Leech – Blu-ray Review

The Leech is the new offering from writer/director Eric Pennycoff (The Pod, Sadistic Intentions) and the marketing material claims that this cautionary tale of opening your home up to strangers is “agonisingly intense and rib-ticklingly funny”. Having watched The Leech I gotta say that I’m not seeing either of those things.

The plot is reasonably straightforward. Father David (Graham Skipper – Sequence Break, Almost Human) is a Catholic priest, preaching to a handful of folks in a failing church. The only person who really seems to believe and support him is the church helper Rigo (Rigo Garay – Size Up, Miss Millie). One day David finds a man sleeping in the church after mass. This is Terry (Jeremy Gardner – The Battery, After Midnight). His girlfriend throws him out onto the cold, snowy streets and David offers him a place to stay. Of course, no good deed goes unpunished. On top of smoking, drinking and playing loud music, Terry brings his pregnant girlfriend Lexi to stay. David sets out to try and help the two reconcile through the healing power of God and religious counselling, but is he going to be able to convert the pair or are they going to drag him down with them?

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Jeremy Gardner is always a pleasure to watch, and he adds just the right amount of swagger and sleaze to Terry. Plenty of us have encountered someone just like him – the amiable slacker, the deadbeat housemate, perfectly happy to kick back and live off someone else’s charity. He’s the life of the party, but you’d better not rely on him for anything! Graham Skipper also does a great job with the portrayal of David, bringing warmth and believability to the role as well as some fire and zeal when the scene calls for it.

This Blu-ray release is Arrow Video’s usual solid effort and should be enough to satisfy even the most ardent fan. We’ve got two different commentary tracks; behind the scenes footage from the set; interviews; a visual essay by film critic Anton Bitel called ‘Preaching to the Void’; three of Pennycoff’s early short films, and more besides. The commentary tracks are decent enough, with the live Chattanooga Film Festival commentary coming out on top as the more engaging of the two.

The biggest issue with The Leech is that the story just feels flat. Even as events eventually climax in an act of blood and destruction it feels hollow, lacking the emotional punch audiences would want and expect from the final scene of the movie. There’s an early attempt to hint that perhaps David isn’t an entirely reliable narrator, but even as things spiral out of control the audience is likely to be left cold and uninvolved.

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All in all The Leech is by no means a bad film; it’s well shot, well directed and well acted. But there’s something vital missing from the heart of it that means it’s unlikely to leave much of a lasting impression on viewers. Those in search of a new Christmas classic will need to keep looking.

The Leech is out now on Blu-ray from Arrow Video.


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