A common occurance when one is a lover of horror cinema is the encountering of terrible productions. As I have stated previously, one will find two decent films for every seven disreputable ones. There are many “tells” for the detection of low quality that may deter one from having to sit through such a stinker. The movie’s box or cover art and lettering may betray the second rate nature of such. It might feature an actor on the downward spiral of their career, and should be avoided at all costs. There are a number of red flags to be had. The true tragedy is felt when acting quality and production value are less at fault than the ill-conceived screenplay or script that is being brought to celluloid life. The Veil is a perfect example of just that type of film.
Now, before I let fly with my myriad objections, I want to state everything that was right and good about the movie. The plot revolves around a documentary crew investigating the campgrounds which were home base for a Jim Jones type cult leader and his followers who all committed mass suicide. Thomas Jane is cast as the enigmatic figurehead, and it is his best performance I have seen to date. The character, summoned from whole cloth I presume, is played as around one-third Elvis, one-third Jim Morrison, and one-third Marlon Brando’s Captain Kurtz. It is fantastic.
There you have it. Not much else to praise in the flick. Well… I suppose it is pleasant to look at the lovely and talented Jessica Alba, but even her performance is nothing to write home about. She delivers a short monologue about discovering her father after he had hanged himself when she was a child. Completely missing the mark, Alba emotes melancholy as if she found out her favourite flavour of ice cream is no longer available. The rest of her crew are a scruffy bunch of film dorks with no character dimension. Thirty minutes into the film, I noted to myself that I had yet to care a whit about any of them.
Now, on to my questions and criticisms. If it needs be said, spoilers do lie ahead, so if you don’t want to have the story somewhat ruined for you, now would be the appropriate time to end our conversation.
Exactly what type of documentary would exclusively feature footage of a campgrounds that had been cleared out and abandoned twenty-five years earlier? Why would the soul survivor of the mass suicide be known by name to the caretaker of the grounds, referred to as The Veil, when she had been given a brand new name by child services… a name assumably kept from the general public? If the FBI had arrived on the scene just minutes after a mass suicide, why would they not remove a corpse handcuffed to a fixture inside the only building? Why would the survivor and the documentary crew not smell the twenty-five year old rotting corpse, itself, even after she has accidentally smooshed her full hand into the gooey and putrid body? Why would the crew not wake up from the sound of their van being driven away as they slept in their flimsy camping tents? Why does sixteen miles to help later become twelve miles to the road and then twenty miles to “anything?” Why would anyone attempt to get B-roll for a documentary in the isolated dark of a campground late at night? Why would none of the crew hear their van crash at top speed into a large tree, killing the driver, a mere forty feet from where they all are? After seeing that grisly death, why would they calmly decide to stay? Where would the leader of a no-more-than thirty member cult obtain a full mason jar of African black mamba venom? If the cult members of The Veil can put their souls into anyone at any time, effectively taking over their body, why would they take the time to orchestrate the deaths of the documentary crew? For that matter, why would they wait twenty-five years to do it? Many people had come and gone since the mass suicide and the FBI raid.
Such a horribly misaligned and poorly thought out film.
I award The Veil two stars out of ten based solely on Thomas Jane’s performance. Do not waste your time on this black abyss of garbage.