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The Blessed Ones - Wild Eye Releasing Print E-mail
User Rating: / 3
Written by Jay Creepy   
Thursday, 28 December 2017
Severed Cinema Review of The Blessed Ones from Wild Eye Releasing


AKA: Polaris, The Divine Ones

Directed by: Patrick O'Bell
Written by: Patrick O'Bell
Produced by: Andy Gates, Maureen Whelan, Patrick O'Bell
Cinematography by: Patrick O'Bell, Simon Hayes
Special Effects by: Tim Jarvis
Music by: Inertu
Editing by: Patrick O'Bell
Cast: Andy Gates, Tamzin Brown, Jonathan Erickson Eisley, Dave Vescio, Patrick O'Bell, Amanda Yael Eisley, Michelle Tomlinson.
Year: 2016
Country: USA
Language: English
Color: Color
Runtime: 1h 20min

Studio: Lost Order Films
Distributor: Wild Eye Releasing

To me, Jim Jones was an incredible visionary person. Before he lapsed into drugs, what the man spoke against and how he united people from all different backgrounds, was akin to a true preacher who brought hope. I can say the same for Marshall Applewhite on a different level. David Koresh was simply a sexual predator and a thug, as was Charles Manson whom many think was a weapon controlled by the government to destroy the revolution which was building in America at the time.

Many people are fascinated by cults and the will of a person who can draw so many together. It's always great to have a new film arrive based around cults. The Blessed Ones is a shiny low budget one that, hopefully, will offer a balanced view and not rely on exploitation -- not that we have anything against exploiting anything for the sake of a gritty and nasty movie. Where would the ‘70s have been without that ingredient?

As the credits run we are besotted by images of the dead and other things via cultish means. We open to a man, Spencer, arrested and he thinks back to being blindfolded and tied in the back of a pick-up truck. Off they go to the police station. Sat there being observed, we cut to crowds of dead folk at a compound all with plastic cups in their hands.

“We're gathered here today for a very special occasion.” says the obvious cult leader, Elyon, via a wavy wobbly screen, “I've just received a divine order from above.” Basically it's time to leave Planet Earth behind. To reward their love and devotion, he states The Polaris Society will find paradise in the stars. “Today is the day we leave Planet Earth...” using a plastic cup full of liquid. A combination of Jim and Marshall for this flick.

What we are basically seeing and doing for The Blessed Ones, is following the sole survivor of this mass suicide as his story is told via flashbacks whilst being interviewed by a detective. He begins by saying it's hard to remember much but assumes that he must have drunk some of the poison. We see him at the compound washing his mouth out desperately then being grabbed by a biker looking dude called Draco, who appears to be an enforcer. “Drink it all like you've been told or I'll force it down your throat!” comes the command. A bit of ruffing up follows but suddenly another survivor smacks Draco over the head. Ursa grips his hand and they run like hell across the desert until exhausted.  “How did it feel watching your fellow members dying around you?” she asks when he has doubts about living.

Back in the present, Spencer explains that they were both actually chosen to lead the others by Elyon. Others who didn't drink the poison were, of course, Draco, and the Nurse, Iris. Thus a rather angry and embarrassed, Draco, is sent by Elyon into the desert to hunt the fugitives. Spencer becomes sick, slowing them down somewhat. Add to this he suffers some pretty mad dreams about Elyon. Ursa decides to split and find help. She never returns. So a weakened and staggering Spencer is left wandering the desert alone and confused as Draco closes in for a game of cat and mouse 

More flashbacks reveal how life was. From punishments, gradual lack of faith, to the arrival of John Miranti, a de-programmer who is looking for one of the younger followers, Ana. John's story is disturbing and makes him take a throne next to Elyon for different reasons. The detective interviewing Spencer thinks that Ursa was planted into the community by John Miranti. We also learn why our main guy actually joined his new family. “Elyon wasn't an evil man! He was trying to save our souls!”

We cut to and fro between plots from the beginnings, to what happened to the survivors remaining at the compound by choice or by force, after the mass suicide and it all rounds up nicely concluded via a standard, if predictable, ending.

The Blessed Ones shows initiations. It says many things about how cults work and the words used to bring the followers. My one issue is the role that Dave Vescio plays in Elyon. There isn't that magnetic force radiating from him. At no point in the film could I believe he was a figurehead with the ability to draw and direct such a gathering. He acts well enough, but he seems so out of place. A minor quibble has to be the cruddy CGI blood. It absolutely sucks and distracts from certain moments. It doesn't take much to wave a ketchup bottle off camera so it splatters in the air does it???!!!

On a psychological level, the script is superb. The way that even when on the run, the guilt and loyalty which hums within, due to a long time living in such a community, is handled well enough. We also see how a leader can change in the eyes of some devoted. “Elyon is a deluded and dangerous man!”

As for the characters, apart from the miscasting of Elyon, Jonathan (Play Hard, Nice Guys) Erickson Eisley as Draco is effective enough, though Draco spends a majority of screen time driving, walking, or burying dead bodies with their shoe sticking out of the shallow graves which had me chuckling more than once. I particularly liked Nurse Iris, played by Alex (Dark Intentions, Tales of Halloween) Essoe. Spaced out is the way to be. Our two main faces, Andy Gates (Spencer) and Tamzin Brown as Ursa work well with their material and each other. (SPOILER ALERT) I do feel that the element of surprise is lost somehow with Spencer, due to the sinister way he is throughout. (END OF SPOILER)

The Blessed Ones plays itself as low-key and gritty. The writing and direction has power. I believe the small budget helps such a film -- apart from the CGI blood of course. All in all, it's a great watch and isn't dull. Director/writer, Patrick O'Bell is centrally an actor, having only shot one or two underground features. I feel with The Blessed Ones, he's busted his scrotum to create something out of the normal visionary states. It isn't the greatest cult film ever made, but it has the ability to keep you watching.





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