Tuesday, March 15, 2016

THE VEIL (2016) [Joe's Review]

. . . It's like everyone has been hanging out without her, and they all secretly hate her! . . .
A cult of religious wackos swallows poison together and dies, leaving one little girl behind. Twenty years later, she returns for answers.

In The Veil, Sarah Hope is the only survivor of a religious cult that committed mass suicide in the 1980s. She is sought out by Maggie Price (Jessica Alba), the leader of a documentary team that has unearthed footage of that fateful day. Maggie and her film crew convince Sarah to return to The Veil Ranch, and to discover what happened all those years ago.

For the first 45 minutes of The Veil, the documentary team mostly follows Sarah around as she explores the creepy ranch. Eventually, they find the well-produced films of the crazy cult leader and watch them. They discover that Jim Jacobs was a faith healer who started a cult, and lived at a ranch with his followers. He started experimenting with astral projection, and achieved it by virtually killing himself with a sodium thiopenthal / black mamba venom cocktail.

Of course he wanted to share this awesome discovery with his family, so he concocted a plan [major spoiler ahead]:

He’d dose his entire cult with deadly poison sugar cubes all at once and have his assistant administer the antidote to everybody before the poison killed them forever. They’d take a jaunt to the afterlife, snap group photos with Peter, buy some coffee mugs, and be back before dinner!

But there was one big word problem:

If there are 41 people in your cult, and 40 take deadly poison, and it takes six minutes for the poison to kill a cult member forever, then how many people will your assistant be able to inject with the antidote before the poison kills the rest?

Instead of figuring that out, Jim Jacobs went ahead and set all the antidote needles on a rickety lemonade tray, kicked back in his rocking chair, and commanded all 40 cultists to dose themselves at once.

And then, of course, the feds arrived!

Oh well, it’s not like they’d just start shooting as soon as they saw the assistant:

1 second later:

41 people died that day. 40 died from eating sodium thiopenthal and black mamba venom on a sugar cube because their cult leader told them to. And the one black person was shot by a cop.

I don’t think the film makers intended this to be a potent piece of social commentary. I’m pretty sure they made a black woman get shot by the cops in order to prevent the cultists from getting the antidote. You know why? Because the whole point of The Veil is how angry the undead WHITE people are with the police!

You see, the agent was Maggie’s father, and Sarah and her undead family have been plotting revenge – FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE – ever since. When her father’s role is finally revealed, Maggie realizes the cult blames her father for killing them all, and it turns out that her film crew has been possessed by the souls of the cultists! It’s like everyone has been hanging out without her, and they all secretly hate her!


*Cue Jessica Alba crucifixion*

That’s as close as The Veil gets to meaning: when your friends realize something embarrassing about you that you didn’t realize about yourself. Except in The Veil, they’re all embarrassed by the wrong part.

Questions for Paul:
1. Was Sarah (the lone survivor) always bad? Or did she totally just miss the point of those videos?

PH:  I think that she goes from good to bad when she remembers what happened, though I'm not sure how you visually portray someone remembering what happened except through some kind of flashback, which really isn't viable for this movie since half of it is flashback already. 

2. Is it just me, or did everyone who died look better afterwards? Even if they'd been killed with a wrench?

PH:  We know that wrenches are really great plumbing tools, but who knew they could also fix your face?   Awaken may have introduced the idea of the wrench as a surgical instrument, but it took The Veil to demonstrate its cosmetic applications!

3. Would you be able to tell if one of your friends had been possessed by an 8 year old girl?

PH:  Yes, Joe, absolutely.  Now when do we talk about ponies?  Ponies are the best!  Daddy says we can get one right after we kill you and possess your dead corpse.  Did you know boys can pee standing up?  I do it that way almost every time because I'm not an 8 year old girl.

4. Were the cultists actually all evil? Or were they replaced by evil spirits?

 PH:  According to the film, they weren't evil as much as they were sort of pissed off that they were dead.  Which is sort of unfair since they did eat all the poison themselves.  It's sort of like when your cat scratches you and you get pissed at the cat.  But what were you doing trying to dress up the cat like "chairman meow" anyway?  Your fault.

5. Whose nails were they removing?

PH:  Ah, you're referring to the lines about "removing the nails" each time Jim Jacobs gets better at coming back from the dead.  Earlier he says something about how our souls are nailed to our bodies, so if we took the nails out, our souls could sort of float around in space.  I'm sure they played around with other adhesives, like "removing the duct tape" or "removing the old chewed-up gum," but nails is in better keeping with the atmosphere.
6. Is it possible the guy who got beat to death by a hammer didn't ever die, but was just badly concussed?

PH:  Yes, but then that would mean that the whole thing was a hoax, and that the film crew was never actually murdered and possessed.  That would mean that they all went nuts and just believed that they were possessed.  In which case, there's actually no harm and no foul in the film! Thus "removing the nails" would really just mean going to the DMV for a legal name change and finding a pony that can support the weight of a 30-year-old woman.

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