Cult Hero ★★★ Fantasia International Film Festival

Cult Hero ★★★ Fantasia International Film Festival

Dale Domazar (Ry Barrett) is a washed-up private investigator and “cult-buster” whose last cult bust resulted in a mass suicide. Kallie Jones (Liv Collins) is a realtor who needs to control everything. With her husband Brad (Justin Bott) sleepwalking through life, Kallie is certain a stay at Master Jagori’s (Tony Burgess) retreat for men will help their marriage. But when Brad extends his stay against Kallie’s wishes, she suspects he’s been indoctrinated into a cult and calls Dale for help. This moment couldn’t have come at a better time, giving Dale a chance to redeem himself.

Dumb and full of an awful lot of fun Cult Hero is exactly the type of horror comedy you want to enjoy. Ry Barrett brings everything as Dale and you really can’t help but keep smiling anytime he is on the screen. Even in the opening scene where he infiltrates and tries to snare a cult in the middle of their sacrifices. It goes so horrifically yet hysterically wrong that you can’t imagine someone trying to figure out his next step in the same career.

The few complaints there are, solely revolve around characters not spending as much time together. Barrett and Collins bounce off each other so well that you wish they shared the screen for longer. Barrett’s absurd portrayal while at his lowest point, is as free as they come. Compare that to Kallie who is as tightly wound as you can imagine, controlling and precise she is also pretty clueless, even to seeing how suicidal her own husband is.

Yet as a duo they are dynamite together and their joint redemption Dale for his career and Kallie in getting her husband back and letting him be him is compelling enough a story without the comedy. In this instance the comedy in Cult Hero only enhances the entire story, which for a daft horror-comedy, is actually unexpected. So by not having these two together earlier into the film, it feels as if we are missing out on something great.

Add into this the fact that the first hour of Cult Hero is simply too long. It takes too long to get where we need it to, which is why we need them both together sooner. While it is great seeing them spiral, there are certainly multiple moments that go on for a couple minutes too long, or are not really needed at all to convey the message Jesse Thomas Cook and Kevin Revie are trying to get across.

When Cult Hero works, it really works and is a film that will easily find its audience. Sadly though, it needed more urgency and oomph to really send the crowd home happy. For what it is, it’s fine, but the feeling that it could and should have been something better lingers with you throughout and after the credits have rolled. Everyone seems to be having a ball and if you are able to catch this with a crowd of a group of friends then it will be an infectious romp.


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