Cult Hero (Canada, 2022) is a new entry into the proud and storied tradition of low budget Canadian exploitation films, from the Canadian tax shelter films of the 1980s to the work of Odessa Film Works and Astron 6. And like (many of) those films, Cult Hero is a good time. Written by Kevin Revie from a story by Tony Burgess and Liv Collins, who star in the film, and Jesse Thomas Cook, who directs it, Cult Hero is the kind of scrappy production that warms my heart.
Dale Domazar is the former star of Cult Buster, a reality tv show like Cops or Dog The Bounty Hunter. He is a Zap Rowsdower for the 21st Century. Dale is played by Ry Barrett with an intensity that feels like if Jason Sudeikis played the Ultimate Warrior on Saturday Night Live. Dale was disgraced when a cult bust went extremely fatal. His show was canceled and his private investigator license was revoked. Since then Dale has been living in an RV in the woods, making cameos for his remaining fans on old video equipment and trying to make a comeback. Dale gets his chance when Kallie Jones (Liv Collins), former top realtor at Scenic City Realty, calls him with a problem. Her husband, Brad (Justin Bott), went into an Owen Sound wellness center for what she thought was a weekend or so, but now she’s pretty sure he’s in a cult.
Kallie is officious, controlling, jealous of rival realtor Cynthia Doyle (Jessica Dano), barely holding it together and completely ready to call the manager or the cops on anything. But together Dale and Kallie are going to bust this cult wide open and save Brad, if he even wants to be saved. Brad is having a pretty nice time away from Kallie. While Kallie is terrifying, Brad has been self-destructively and nebbishly passive. Then again, Brad doesn’t seen so sure about Master Jagori (Tony Burgess) But Jagori knows the power of ayahuasca memoirs and religious movements created by science fiction authors. In fact, his top lieutenants are all fanboys who believe in his books. In the end, Master Jagori has a higher quality of cult follower than The Final Sacrifice‘s Ziox ever did. But Dale is determined to make season two of Cult Buster happen, and Kallie is determined to save her marriage, and cult busting might be just the thing everyone needs to change their lives for the better. Even if it means some dudes in skull masks bite it.
Cult Hero is a fun time, reminiscent of straight to video wonders, and it’s solid all the way through with nice gore, cool skull masks, some creepy characters, and all around delightful commitment to character with both Liv Collins’ Kallie and Ry Barrett’s Dale.
Read more of Carol’s thoughts about Cult Hero here.