Reviewed by: Dave Murray
What's it about
Joshua's having a pretty shitty time. He's been laid off, people start dying around him, and really he's got nowhere to live. After he's taken in by a kindly ex-priest, the people that cross his path begin to experience his powers, and his curse - he can heal the wounded and easily kill anyone who threatens him. See, the end of the world is coming, and the saviour or the antichrist is not who you would ever expect.
Is it good movie?
I have to admit it, Mike Klassen's Abolition had me intrigued. A hit at its premiere this year at the Fantasia Film Fest in Montreal, I knew little to nothing about the flick before I sat down to watch it, and I have to say that for an independent Canadian feature, I was suitably impressed. While not without it's flaws, it's a sterling example that we (Canadians I mean) are on our way to creating a vital and thriving horrific film community, and simultaneously dispelling decades of cinematic stigma that has come to surround our film industry, which is usually met with disdain and jocular ignorance even by Canadians as well. But lately I've been a sucker for low budget Canadian thrillers for years, especially when the premise is intriguing. This one takes a tired narrative plot for a religious thriller (the end of the world), and mixes it up with a protagonist that you wouldn't expect (a plumber?), and proceeds to doll out the imagery and ambiguity in equal doses, leaving us ultimately unclear about which side of the war Joshua is fighting for.
Right from the opening "immaculate" birth scene that's anything but immaculate, we get the sense that the story and characters to come are going to be offbeat, not what we would normally expect. Most of the acting here is of no great shakes, and some of the dialogue is stilted or forced in places, but the leads have no small amount of talent and do give some dramatic weight to their roles. Andrew Roth is fascinating to watch, as his Joshua discovers his powers and his place in the world. Also of note is the great Reggie Bannister (of Phantasm) as the ex-priest Matthew. I'm a fan, so it was great to see him rock it with a nice turn of crazy throughout. He added something to the movie, a certain gravity and dignity that helped propel the narrative. The script itself seems like a well written affair, if a little cliched at times. It's hard to not do a religious thriller without echoing most of what has come before. The premise is solid, and the ambiguous twists and turns are welcome. The narrative certainly keeps the audience on its toes!
The effects are particularly well done, and some of the gory bits are very well executed (loved the nails through the wrist!). The flick itself looks like it was shot in DV, even in a machine that is upconverting it to 1080p, and I would love to have seen it on a theatre screen. It's well shot, competently directed and edited, and the minimal art direction is haunting and sparse, which serves the tome and theme of the movie excellently. All in all we've got the makings of indie brilliance, but the score bugged me somewhat. It seemed like the plaintive and haunting piano score, at time, was a bit much for me, and took me out of the movie because it was getting a little repetitive or heavy handed. But that's a minor gripe. All in all, I was intrigued, I was entertained, and I was suitably impressed by relative newcomer Mike Klassen. Good work! Here's to Homegrown Horror! Looking for big things from him and his company, SKG Films, in the future, because what I see here may not be a perfect thriller, but it does show talent and promise of bigger and better to come.
Video / Audio
Video: 2.35:1 Widescreen.
Audio: English Dolby Digital Stereo.
Nothing on this screener.
While not a truly terrifying horror tale or a sublimely great thriller, Aboltion is a tight and haunting piece of religious doom that takes a new spin on the end of the world scenario, and Klassen gives us a well shot, well acted, competently directed and all around intriguing Canadian independent thriller. The cast served the story well, with some notable standouts (REGGIE!), and the effects were well handled. A little more script polish and maybe a little post processing work on the film itself would have made this a perfect thrill for me, but that's just me whining a little. As it is, if you're looking for a thoughtful and intelligent Canadian indie that delivers the goods, making you want more in the future from the director, then check this one out.