The Shudder Original Revealer, an apocalyptic, supernatural, neon-horror film co-written by Hack/Slash writer and artist Tim Seeley and Michael Moreci, premiered on the streaming platform today. Directed by Luke Boyce, it follows an exotic dancer, Angie Pitarelli (Caito Aase), in 1987 Chicago. Angie works the peep show booth at the Revealers Bookstore. After her boss, Ray (Bishop Stevens), is killed in the chaos erupting outside, Angie becomes trapped inside the cubicle next to a religious zealot — in the age of sin and Satanic Panic, she's the “low-rent Tammy Faye” — Sally Mewbourne (Shaina Schrooten). The two must work together to escape the evil that’s come to claim all sinners.
Revealer premiered at Panic Fest in Kansas City this year, winning the Audience Award for Best Actress for Aase’s performance. Boyce had this to say about Shudder acquiring the film, “We made Revealer as the entire shift of the world changed beneath our feet, and we responded to that creatively. It is a movie that’s wild and scary but also heartfelt and emotional. It’s a neon-drenched, horror-filled call for connectedness, and we are so incredibly excited to have teamed up with Shudder, a platform, and community I love dearly, as the perfect home to share it with the world.” As a long-time fan of Seeley’s work, neon-soaked 80s pulp, and dark comedy, the film delighted my horror sensibilities from open to close.
“The wages of sin is death. Let the sinners, oh…let them descend into the pit of hell. A small donation is all I ask. Can we even put a price on salvation?”
The film opens in the personal hell of a television preacher (Buzz Leer), with one of his ads playing in the background, riling up his flock of faith-mongers and asking for donations. In protest, he exclaims that he doesn’t belong in hell. He’s a faithful disciple of the Lord, after all. We discover that his sin is greed, a sin of rapacious desire and the pursuit of material possessions. The preacher’s greed is evil, an abomination. I love a cold open, and this one sets up the thread of loud revolt against religious persecution and control.
As Angie begins to dance for tips in the booth for the first time, a montage begins backed by the synth 80s retrowave sounds of “Dark All Day” by Gunship. We glimpse Sally fervently trying to stop men from entering the bookstore while Angie ferociously dances, unashamed and comfortable in her skin. I appreciate the authenticity that Aase brings to the character of Angie, both in body type and personality. Ray tells Angie that men want “big breasts and a small ass,” affirming that Angie doesn’t fit the mold. She raises her middle finger to Ray — a fuck you to male standards of beauty — and marches back to a booth. Her confidence and unapologetic attitude are frankly empowering. Angie is a new-wave feminist icon.
“Poor little stripper. You are responsible for all of this. You and the Satanists, and don’t even get me started on the homosexuals. You have paved the road for Lucifer himself to stomp his cloven hoofs right up to our doorstep.”
Sally embodies everything wrong with religious ideologies and is quick to blame the end of days events unfolding outside on Angie and everyone she judges to be a sinner. Schrooten delivers a believable and amusing performance as the bible-wielding warrior for God, waiting to be called to the pearly gates with venomous words for Angie’s wicked ways. The banter between the two leads is one of the film’s highlights. Seeley and Moreci expertly time verbal jabs and nostalgic pop-culture references — including a reference to C.H.U.D. — for maximum comedic effect. Even during the film’s tense horror-filled moments, unclean demonic spirits and all, it’s a fun ride.
The set designs, stellar performances, practical visuals, special effects, and incredible synthwave score by Alex Cuervo make Revealer a must-see dark comedy. The film lacks gore, but it's gritty and doesn’t require blood, guts, and jump scares to be entertaining. The film is a hilarious and relatable feminist and queer horror story highlighting society’s fears of "the other," its persecution of nonconformity, and finding the strength to learn to love and be ourselves through it all.