dir. Jesse Thomas Cook
There’s a charm to Jesse Thomas Cook’s latest that can’t be denied: by-the-books in many ways its slapstick humour and over-the-top antics show a wry self-awareness, with Cult Hero knowing exactly what it is; silly, gory fun.
Ryan Barrett is a standout as Dale Domazar, a reality TV cult deprogrammer who’s fallen on tough times after being ostracised for going off-script and inciting a massacre during an episode of his show “Cult Buster.” So when Dale is called back into action by Kallie (Liv Collins) – a “Karen” in every sense of the word who enlists him to help get her husband out of a wellness cult – it’s his chance at a comeback.
Dale’s gruff, 80s action hero persona feels earnestly, cringingly authentic, though isn’t quite grounded enough to root for him. Similarly his pairing with Kallie make them an irritating team: on their own they’re fully realised caricatures of well known clichés, but together many of their interactions – though amusingly antagonistic – are long winded and rather forced.
With such a familiar narrative it would have been nice to have seen more innovation to the formula, but Cult Hero‘s humour (mostly) hits the mark, even if it lacks any real surprises.
© Jerry Sampson