First-time director Luke Boyce’s Revealer, the newest horror comedy offering from horror streaming service Shudder is an apocalyptic odd-couple story about a peep show dancer (Caitlin Aase) and an evangelical protestor (Shaina Schrooten) who attempt to survive the apocalypse together while trapped. Co-written by Michael Moreci (The Plot, Barbaric) and Tim Seeley (Nightwing, West of Sundown), Revealer is a strong script that in execution blends into the crowd.
Leaning far more comedy than it does horror, and even then not falling into the comedy genre often, Revealer skews closer to a character study than it does to a horror movie at times, with Aase and Schrooten carrying the film on their backs when Boyce’s directing falls short. Aase’s Angie Pitarelli is a peep show dancer with an acerbic wit and a sharp tongue, with Aase delivering many of her lines with a deadpan tone. Schrooten meanwhile plays Sally Mewborne with an earnestness befitting a born-again evangelical Christian who dedicates her time to protesting outside of a peep show. It’s Schrooten who comes out as the real star of the show, delivering fire and brimstone monologues with an earnestness that belies how much she truly believes in the Revelations-style apocalypse happening outside.
True to its name, Revealer is about not just Revelations in the biblical and peep show sense, but in the personal sense, with Angie and Sally revealing themselves to each other, and by extension the viewer. The revelations and their purpose are rather blunt, but they’re not unwelcome. While it sets itself up for more action, Revealer surprises by well, revealing itself to in fact be a slower burn, as slow of a burn as an 84 minute movie can be at least.
Aside from the leads and Moreci and Seeley’s script, Revealer does little to differentiate itself from the glut of 80s-themed horror that has been released since 2014. Making liberal use of neon lighting (especially blue and red) and featuring a basic synth score from Alex Cuervo (The Pale Door), the real cardinal sin that Revealer commits is not setting itself apart from the crowd, both in tone and look. The aforementioned lighting is the worst culprit here, harkening to Censor, a film which is itself a far better use of the 80s setting than Revealer, which could, aside from a few references to setting, be very easily set in the modern-day.
Which isn’t to say that Revealer’s look is wrong, the production design is top-notch, especially in the scenes set in Angie’s booth, with the neon glow casting itself over the actor’s faces and adding some interest to the shots that gets lost in the final act as the girls make their way through the tunnels underneath Angie’s workplace and everything evens out to a far simpler greenish-grey lighting, losing all of the personality of the earlier parts of the film.
The runtime, which is far shorter than a lot of horror movies tend to be these days, still feels the tiniest bit too short, leaving me wanting even just a little bit more when the movie ended. The final fight against Asmodeus especially could have gone on a bit longer than it did and more time could have been dedicated to Sally, who felt far more engaging than Angie did, to the point that she would have made a better focus than Angie, who comes out feeling underdeveloped in comparison.
Revealer is far from the worst horror comedy I’ve ever seen, but it also doesn’t do much to make a case for why it should be the best I’ve ever seen. In the end, it feels average, lacking in some places while being buoyed by the lead actresses, especially Shaina Schrooten. If you’re looking for a quick movie to pass the time or even just if you happen to be browsing Shudder for something to watch it’s well worth your time, but it isn’t something I’d recommend to someone if they had to go out of their way to see it.