final prayer | elliot goldner | gordon kennedy | robin hill | aidan mcardle | found footage | lovecraftian | religion | united kingdom | sarah annis | lee arnold | drew casson | peter charlton | marcus cunningham | patrick godfrey | kevin johnson | the borderlands
Film: Final Prayer
Director: Elliot Goldner
Writer: Elliot Goldner
Starring: Gordon Kennedy, Robin Hill and Aidan McArdle
This is a movie that I didn’t know a lot about. I’m pretty sure the first time I heard of it was over on the Podcast Under the Stairs when I started at the beginning of the back catalogue and started working through. It is one that doesn’t pop up quite that often. I am now giving it a viewing as part of the TPUTS Summer Challenge Series as this is on the 2013 list.
Synopsis: a team of Vatican investigators descend upon a church in a remote area to demystify the unusual happenings, but what they discover is more disturbing than they had first imagined.
We start this movie in Brazil. The police are investigating an alter and loose bricks in a wall. They find what looks to be speakers and tape recorders. From what we hear, the cult members disappeared and there is a guy who is yelling at them to stop filming.
The movie then shifts us over to somewhere in the United Kingdom. Gray (Robin Hill) is the first person at this cabin in the countryside and he is showing us the surveillance equipment he is setting up. This includes him wearing a camera with a headset. He is then joined by Deacon (Gordon Kennedy). This new guy doesn’t look as enthused as his counterpart. The two of them head into town to get some supplies, which for Deacon is mostly just alcohol.
They are waiting on the third member of their team, but he is late. Deacon decides that along with Gray, they’re going to head to the church in the area. There are rumors that a miracle happened here and they’re there to debunk it. The priest in charge is Father Crellick (Luke Neal). He is convinced what is happening is real. I should point out; he has a small congregation. Gray goes about setting up surveillance equipment here as well. Father Crellick gives them the church records to start their investigation.
That is when Father Mark Amidon (Aidan McArdle) arrives. He is not happy that his team members went to the church without him. The rulebook states they’re supposed to go as a unit. We get the idea that Deacon doesn’t like following the rules. The reason they are there is that while Father Crellick was performing a baptism and items on the alter were moving on their own. Deacon and Mark believe that it is fake while Gray wants to believe. It is interesting though; he is the only of the three that isn’t religious.
Our trio starts their investigation and we see weird things happening. A big dog appears, scares Gray and then disappears. There is a moment where a tombstone states his name and date of birth before going back normal. There are strange sounds and cries coming from the walls of the church. They also witness items moving. Mark along with Deacon believes there is a logical explanation for all of this, at least at first. The deeper they dig, the more terrifying things become and there could be something supernatural going on here.
To start breaking this movie down, we are getting a found-footage movie. The explanations here why things are being filmed all the way to the end make sense. They are there to disprove a miracle that happened. There have been times in the past where the recordings have been incomplete, so they are required to always wear their headsets when at the church. Wearing them at the cabin doesn’t make a lot of sense, aside from it gives us a deeper look at these guys and to fill in back-story there. They also set up security cameras which help to fill in gaps as well. I can buy all of this and it eliminates an issue I have at times with ‘why are they still filming?’. It also explains why they stick around when scary things are happening. They need proof or to debunk what is happening here. If not, someone else will have to come in to do their investigation.
Something else I liked here is incorporating real history into this movie. Later, Father Calvino (Patrick Godfrey) shows up to help. He brings up missionaries coming to England, taking pagan lands and temples, blessing them and then turning them into churches. I’ve heard about this from history as well as from works like Rawhead Rex. I like the use of this as it helps to explain what we are dealing with is older than Christianity. It gives it a Lovecraftian element with cosmic horror as well, especially with the ending.
Going along with the found-footage angle, which adds a creepy level of being with them, I want to go next to the sound design. Everything that we are hearing is within the world of the movie. I like that aspect. We are hearing creepy sounds and then seeing the characters ask if it is done by another. There is also something they do later in the movie that makes things we are hearing even scarier. I thought this was one of the strongest parts of the movie.
Where I’ll go next is the acting. Being that this is a found-footage film, I don’t need the acting to be great. I thought this group we follow is solid though. Kennedy plays this jaded guy of Deacon well. I get the feeling he has a past that is making him be who he is. Hill is this one who isn’t jaded yet and just wants to believe. McArdle is secondary to them as he isn’t there at first and we don’t follow him as much. I do know that Mark is the one who follows the book more than his counterparts. I thought that Neal did well with Father Crellick. I also like the cameo by Godfrey as Father Calvino. The rest of the cast rounded this out for what was needed as well.
Then really the last thing that I wanted to go into would be the cinematography. I’ve already said my positives on it, but I did have an issue. I’m not a fan of the digital messing up of the camera. We get a lot of that in the movie. I know why it is used here and it makes sense, especially at the end. It is just something that I’ve seen a lot of in movies like this and I’m not the biggest fan.
In conclusion, I ended up enjoying what this movie was doing. I knew the title coming in and that it had religious aspects to it. There are things like the concept, premise and the lore that they’re incorporating that tick boxes for me. I would say that the acting was solid across the board and felt natural. I like the found-footage angle. Why they’re filming makes sense and the sound design works. If I have a negative, it is the digital messing up of the footage as well. For me though, this is a good movie. One of the better found-footage films you don’t hear a lot about. If things I’ve brought up tick boxes for you, I would recommend giving this a viewing.
My Rating: 8 out of 10