[Panic Fest 2022 Review] REVEALER
Courtesy Panic Fest l Paper Street Pictures

The buddy film is a genre of cinema in which two characters come together to partake in some kind of adventure or journey. The two individuals will begin with very different personalities that will keep them at odds as they usually start the film hating each other. With one being overly serious and always following the rules, and the other doing as they please and not caring how people think about them, how could these two ever even wind up even in the same room? Thankfully, the plot demands the unlikely duo to work together under forced circumstances, and then through the unveiling of their personal lives and well-hidden secrets, the two realize they are not that different after all. Sure, we have seen this film hundreds of times, but have we seen it with a religious protestor and a stripper stuck in a nudie peep show booth during the apocalypse? Luke Boyce creates the female buddy film we did not know we needed, but after seeing REVEALER you will be eager to grab your favorite frenemy and head to your nearest sex shop to watch the world end.

Immediately, the film establishes a very heavy religious theme with the screaming rants of an overly righteous preacher as he claims he brought God into the world and remains free of sin. However, screaming about being a good person, is not the same as actually being one.

After the cold opening, the film establishes two very different characters with the leading ladies of REVEALER. Caito Aase plays Angela, a sex worker who dances in a peepshow booth. And Shaina Schrooten plays Sally, a religious faith-spewer who condemns anything sexy. The two go about their day dancing and preaching, but then the apocalypse rolls in. The powerful and electric strip tease choreographed and performed by Aase becomes bathed in neon as the world outside takes on a dangerously red hue. And as people scream and die, the peepshow booth becomes an unlikely sanctuary. And if you thought being trapped in a sex shop was hard for Angela to accept, imagine how Sally feels! The more religious of the two takes solace in her prayer but goes from crying about the end times to being a judgmental bitch pretty quick. Casting stones of disapproval, Sally blames Angela and her sexy ways as the cause for the end of the world.

Angela makes attempts to escape, while Sally wants to sit on the floor and wait for Jesus to save her. Since Angie remains trapped in the booth, only Sally has free range of the store. Therefore, the woman who lived her entire life following the rules laid down by man, must now embrace her own independence and work alongside the sinful imagery she was brainwashed to loathe. For the first half of the movie, the supposed good and bad angel characters stand on opposite sides both morally and physically, but despite her upbringing, Sally decides to be a decent person and work together to free Angela from the peep booth. The chemistry between Aasa and Schrooten plays off each other smoothly and despite being the only two characters for the majority of the film, they keep the audience engaged and invested in their plight to survive the apocalypse.

While the casting of humans stays very limited with either Aase or Schrooten being in basically every shot, the third ‘character’ would definitely be the peep show booth. Dealing with filming locations due to the COVID quarantine, Boyce uses a single space but never lets the audience feel claustrophobic or bored with the restricted interior. Overall, a very impressive use of a small budget, cast, and space.

The polar opposite lifestyles of Angela and Sally place this movie firmly in the buddy-film genre, but the demons, monsters, and the impending collapse of the world keep the story fresh. REVEALER also drops hints of different themes such as female empowerment, freedom from religion, and how the 80s loved neon. So, no matter what brings on the destruction of the Earth, be it sex, drugs, or rock and roll, the real apocalypse is the friends we made along the way.

REVEALER played as a part of Panic Film Fest 2022.

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