Australian writer/director Mark Savage (Painkiller, Bring Him Back Dead) has a history in the genre that dates back to 1986’s Marauders although he didn’t really hit his stride until Sensitive New Age Killers in 2000. Despite his output he hasn’t made much of a name outside of his homeland. Purgatory Road may be the film to change that.
Vincent and Michael’s father was a writer of porn with titles like “Pigtailed Pervert”. He also apparently didn’t like banks and kept all his money in his desk. So the robbery that young Vincent witnesses leaves the family destitute. So destitute that daddy kills Mommy and puts the gun to his own head just as the two boys walk into his office.
Now Vincent (Gary Cairns, Daylight’s End) is a priest, and Michael (Luke Albright Devil’s Pass) is his assistant. They offer redemption to sinners. Those whose sin is theft get a special deal. Redemption through pain and an expedited meeting with God.
After the prologue the film’s first scenes involve Vincent killing a couple who plan to investigate the death of their daughter, last seen on her way to talk to him. This sets the tone for the rest of the film, brutal but beautifully shot violence. And there is violence aplenty here, courtesy of some excellent practical effects by Marcus Koch (Rot, Mohawk).
But thankfully this isn’t just another empty gorefest. The script is intelligent and weaves a fairly compelling story. Vincent’s homicidal hatred of thieves makes sense, it isn’t just a plot device. And when Mary Francis (Trista Robinson, Silent Retreat, Echoes Of Fear) is added to the mix, it’s obvious things are going to come to a very ugly climax. Unlike so many other “extreme” films Purgatory Road has interesting and well-developed characters where it ends up does matter. And believe me, it ends up somewhere you won’t be expecting.
Some excellent camerawork by Andrew Giannetta also moves the film up a few notches. Considering his resume is full of films such as several of the Sharknado sequels some of the shots he delivers are surprisingly brilliant.
Available from Indie Rights Films on VOD and as a DVD or Blu-Ray from Unearthed Films, Purgatory Road is a fine addition to the evil clergyman genre. It can hold its own among the likes of The Confessional and To The Devil A Daughter.