When you read a headline like that, you probably think Heretic is a scary movie that will cause you to lose sleep from nightmares of undead beings coming to get you. Depending on your level of timidness, that may happen. However, one feels a different haunting after watching this movie, which only increases with each viewing. It’s the unnerving feeling that you missed something essential the first (or second, or third) time you watch it. Some key to the mystery is just out of your reach, and you won’t rest easy until you’ve found it.
Written and directed by Chris Schwab, Heretic tells the story of Hannah Blair (Marlene McCohen), a young clairvoyant that tells people stories, predicts their future, and even dabbles in communicating with the dead. What seems more like a hobby than a true vocation becomes an intense passion for Hannah when a mysterious guest arrives at her door on a dark and stormy night. Finally, understanding that her power is genuine and very powerful, Hannah starts to use it to solve the biggest mystery of her life, to find out the truth about what happened to her parents years before.
And that’s all the synopsis you get. Let the audience’s adventure begin.
The cast in Heretic is strong, led by the hypnotic performance of McCohen as Hannah Blair. She’s excellent in scenes with the other actors, but McCohen’s real strength is how she commands your attention in scenes where it’s just her battling her inner demons or some FX demons added in post-production. The stunning Harmony Smith (Thrill Kill) is equally effective as Ruth, a woman who tries to hire Hannah to find out why her husband put a gun in his mouth and blew his head off.
Although his official credit is writer/director, Schwab is also the film’s cinematographer/editor. His work is so compelling that he almost deserves acting credit, too, for how he makes the camera add to every scene. The hypnotic opening shots of Heretic, reminiscent of the opening of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, pull the audience into the story and set the hook so deep you lose all track of everything else, waiting to see what will happen when Hannah answers the knock on her door.