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Revealer Exposes Little Entertaining

A Review for the Shudder Original Lackluster Neon-Soaked Snooze

You can hear the synthwave already

Put your hands together for Revealer, sashaying onto the Shudder stage June 23rd. It’s aiming to be your private dancer, but this horror flick falls short of alluring. Any glint of glitter fails to distract from the mess made of this promising premise.

Revealer centers on Angie Pitarelli played by Caito Aase, an exotic dancer at a low-end establishment in Chicago. Harassed daily by religious protesters led by Shaina Schrooten’s Sally Mewbourne, Angie is just trying to earn a meager living. However, when the Christian apocalypse arrives, these polar opposites will have to rely on one another to survive.

At least, that’s the promise. What ensues is a nearly bloodless escape room melodrama rather than anything close to engaging horror. The problem being little is ever seen, though much is told.

A billboard over a scummy building states Revealers, the strip club in the horror film Revealer. Out front are several religious protesters.
Protesters out front of the peep show.

Instead of showing anything apocalyptic most of the events are implied as sonorous trumpets blare inducing Sally to relate the Biblical Book of Revelations. That would be fine if the story involved skepticism like Pontypool (2008), but since Angie buys the apocalypse from the get-go, this amounts to the most amazing plot points unseen offscreen. We’re told about the sky raining fire and demon hordes arriving, but never see anything. The audience is primarily left with two sweaty people trapped in stripper booths arguing about religion.

Perhaps it could work if the dialogue were tighter, or not full of tired arguments. There isn’t a criticism of religion that, however valid, hasn’t worn the carpet down to the hardwood. Sadly, the pairing of obvious opposites could’ve opened avenues the filmmakers never risk exploring. Without spoilers, there are plot points and potential to go places the movie creates but never chances.

One high note is that Revealer is about a stripper but isn’t drowning in gratuitous nudity. This isn’t Zombie Strippers featuring blood drenched double Ds and pornstar performances. There’s a legit attempt to make a serious film. Too bad it fails to keep the bolts tight enough for a smooth ride.

Shaina Schrooten as self-righteous religious pest Sally Mewbourne in the horror film Revealer, looking very 80s suburban with her large glasses and all around style.
Shaina Schrooten as Sally Mewbourne.

What shimmies onscreen is a jangle of peaks and valleys, poking more than pleasing the eye. Worse, there’s seldom any real tension throughout. Every time Revealer starts to feel like a good film, it falters painfully, like an exotic dancer exhausted by emphysema. Gasping for air, dialogue becomes a spew of ham-fisted diatribes or expository dumps as welcome as a hipster’s ranting recitation of the Wikipedia page about the origins of Christmas. It’s not the preachiness of the obvious message which annoys, but its total lack of originality.

That said, Caito Aase is great at conveying the zero-fucks-given disposition of Angie. It’s unfortunate the character is a somewhat predictable stripper cliché, a hardworking single lady with a kid to care for. If she said she was only stripping to get through med school, the prosaism could reach its maximum. It feels like lazy writing, attempting to convey character depth rather than risking something new. Especially since Aase seems capable of doing more if given more. In fact, so does Shaina Schrooten.

The two primary characters are generally mired in this tar pit. The performers appear able to handle the material at times but are never given much to work with. It’s a shame since we spend the vast majority of the film with them. Roughly ten minutes in, it’s just Schrooten and Aase for the whole film.

Caito Aase as Angie Pitarelli in the horror film Revealer, looking very punk wearing a denim jacket, sunglasses, and spiked collar.
Caito Aase as Angie Pitarelli

That said, Revealer mainly stumbles because of its unevenness. Whenever performers or stylization works well, the occasions they fail becomes more pronounced. Even minor faults consequently stick out like toe-cutting stumbling blocks. For instance, at one point, after using a crowbar to break through a wall, the main characters immediately attempt to rip up the floor barehanded before eventually remembering the tool. It allows for more dull dialogue and seems like a blatant attempt to stretch things out rather than pick up the pace.

One of Revealer’s high points is a solid montage featuring Caito Aase dancing juxtaposed against Shaina Schrooten protesting, which is beautifully done. It’s set to the song “Dark All Day” by Gunship, featuring the legendary Sax Bomb Tim Capello. Although, the song is a strange choice given the lyrical content is about and inspired by Joel Schumacher’s 1987 horror gem The Lost Boys.

That’s essentially the whole of Revealer, a movie full of missteps and squandered potential. Decent performances alongside a promising premise dragged down by lackluster clichés and tired dialogue force us to trudge through bloodless horror. It’s a pole dancer spinning down towards an obvious skull fracture, and even the most cynical person is bored by the outcome.

Main demon in the horror film Revealer, a horned nightmare with a boney ridged forehead
Just got back from the costume shop.

Poor cinematography further adds to the, at best, mediocrity of the film. For instance, a scene full of shaky camera work may’ve meant to imply that frenetic chaos simply produces blurry incoherence. The lack of multiple sets could be forgivable if executed better. Films like 2019’s Porno have utilized limited environments far better than Revealer even attempts to. Worse, when the head demon finally comes full onscreen, it looks like something rented from the Chicago Costume Warehouse on Montrose Avenue.

The best part of the film is the end credits, not just because the movie is over, because the scene implies Revealer would’ve worked better as a short. The film feels like it should’ve been a brief flick that could’ve done well as a Carpenter Brut or Perturbator music video. However, it drags as a full-length feature, straining to fill time.

Revealer lands on Shudder June 23rd, and the best recommendation is to ignore it’s arrival. It reveals little except what not to do when making a horror film. Masquerading as an empowerment piece, Revealer is a toothless neon-soaked synthwave tsunami of boredom.

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Written by Jay Rohr

J. Rohr is a Chicago native with a taste for history and wandering the city at odd hours. In order to deal with the more corrosive aspects of everyday life he writes the blog www.honestyisnotcontagious.com and makes music in the band Beerfinger. His Twitter babble can be found @JackBlankHSH.

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