New this week on Amazon from Wild Eye Releasing
THE BLESSED ONES (2016)
aka POLARIS, THE DIVINE ORDER
Directed by Patrick O’Bell
Written by Patrick O’Bell
Starring Dave Vescio, Andy Gates, Tamzin Brown, Jonathan Erickson Eisley, Michael O’Hare Wallace, Alex Essoe, Mara Saranpreet Luthane, Sean Summers, Uri Horowitz, Jason Johnson, Ashley Cordelia, Amanda Yael Eisley, Michelle Tomlinson, Maureen Whelan, Evelyn James, Reyna Young, Victoria De Mare, Patrick O’Bell, Oliver Stafford, Noah Davidson, Tigran Kirakosyan, Chris Corbally, Riley Vojdani, Michael Masini, Calli Heussler, John Gillette
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Cult films are difficult to pull off. Especially if the central figure in the story is someone who buys into the cult. In order for the story to be convincing, the film has to make the leap from being a normal, centered individual to mindless devotee convincing and that’s no easy task to pull off. THE BLESSED ONES attempts to do this and succeeds to some point. Still, the film feels as if the script needed one more pass in order to succeed in what it is trying to accomplish.
THE BLESSED ONES opens with a field full of dead bodies. Devotees to a New Age cult called The Polaris Group have literally supped the poison-laced Kool Aid in hopes to make a trip to a faraway planet called Polaris. Under the guidance of the charismatic Elyon (Dave Vescio), the entire cult, save for a handful of people, has perished. Among the living are Elyon, his devoted right hand man (the very Lorenzo Lamas-like Jonathan Erickson Eisley) and his nurse who administers the poison (played by STARRY EYES’ Alex Essoe). But Spencer (Andy Gates) gets cold feet and decides to skip camp and not drink the Kool Aid. Spencer meets another reluctant follower Ursa (Tamzin Brown) and the two go on the run to get as far away from the camp as possible. The story is framed with Spencer telling this story to a police officer investigating the mass suicide.
One of the tough things to get over in this movie is that, at no point in the film when Spencer is placed into danger is there tension because we know he ends up sitting in front of a cop after it’s all said and done. This takes the wind out of the film in terms of danger. It also is difficult to get invested because the story just doesn’t seem developed enough to believe Spencer would buy into the cult in the first place. Very little time is used to describe why Spencer get involved with the group. Sure Spencer tells us/the cop that his wife left him and he was in a desperate state, but we are told that instead of shown that. Too many times, are we expected to take a leap with Spencer without enough of a reason to do it, which ultimately, fails to convince why he would join the cult and why we should understand his decisions in the first place. While everyone feels capable in their roles, I think it’s either a case of too much expected from the actors to fill in the holes, or more likely, the roles weren’t fleshed out enough in the nascent stage to make sense with the story. A late in the game appearance by a weird burned figure and a twist that comes out of the blue seals the deal that the script wasn’t thought out completely. It also doesn’t help that it follows the Jim Jones story a little too closely with the Kool Aid consumption and the actor who is supposed to be playing the charismatic guru Elyon isn’t all that charismatic.
The main problem with THE BLESSED ONES is one that I see a lot of with writer/directors in their early efforts. It seems too much of the film was made in a bubble and had director/writer Patrick O’Bell ran this script past a few more people, it would have filled in all of these holes and been a tighter presentation. It just feels as if this one would have benefitted from a viewing from a different perspective. THE BLESSED ONES has an interesting concept in trying to explain what it would take to join a cult. It just misses by a skosh and fails to bring the viewer along for that leap into the cult.
If you like what I said above, help me out and pick it up on Amazon here