Those who enjoy the bizarre horror movies of Don Coscarelli (especially 1979’s Phantasm) might also enjoy The Redeemer: Son of Satan! Fitting the overheated title, this peculiar low-budget shocker has both allegorical and artistic elements, suggesting that writer William Vernick and director Constantine S. Gochis envisioned something deep and metaphorical, rather than just a parade of bloody kills. That they didn’t achieve their goal is almost beside the point. Like one of Coscarelli’s strange pictures, The Redeemer has lots of interesting (if half-baked) ideas, as well as a generally surrealistic vibe. It’s perhaps giving the filmmakers too much credit to say The Redeemer feels like a transcript of a nightmare, since some plot components are straightforward, but I found myself paying fairly close attention simply because I was curious to see whether everything came together in the end. It didn’t, at least not in any way I could recognize, but the journey was somewhat interesting nonetheless.
Broadly, the story has something to do with a supernatural figure punishing a bunch of people who were jerks in high school by luring them back to the school for a reunion and murdering them, one by one, in elaborate ways. There’s also some weird business about a supernatural child who emerges from a lake, as well as a recurring motif tracking how the moral scales are rebalanced with each successive death. Parts of The Redeemer resemble a standard-issue gorefest, as when a knife drops from a ceiling and stabs deep into a victim’s head. Other parts are symbolic, like the sequences with a killer who wears a skull mask and swings a scythe. And then there are moments that seem not to make any sense at all. (Watch out for a frozen corpse and maggots and other unpleasant images.) The acting is meh, not a big deal given the shallow characterizations, and the fact that Gochis never made another movie correctly indicates the limitations of his skillset. Still, in a cinematic landscape filled with pointlessly ugly horror movies, anything with a hint of serious intent deserves praise for treating the genre as something more than a vehicle for cheap thrills.
The Redeemer: Son of Satan!: FUNKY