Sanctioned euthanasia is a full blown industry and Malison is just starting to get her feet wet at her new job. After a rough start she is paired up with seasoned veteran Olivia and together they head out to the remote estate of Milos Somborac. Somborac is on his deathbed and wishes to shuffle his mortal coil a very specific if not peculiar way.
It turns out that Somberac's reason for doing so is to escape the vengeful spirits of a death cult that he once led into a mass suicide. They still haunt his home and rather than pay for his sins against them if Mal and Olivia perform a certain Tibetan death ritual called a sky burial he will be free from them.
Shortly after we have met Malison (Liv Collins), she is in between dwellings, now finds herself with a need of belonging somewhere, frankly anywhere. This effects her is so many ways. It affects how she feels about the house. It affects her feelings towards Olivia. It will affect the way she feels about Somborac (author Tony Burgess, unrecognizable in full facial makeup). Fun fact, the name Malison means 'curse'. Olivia (Sarah Power) is the realist in the duo. She is pragmatic about her work. She is incredibly alluring. While Malison looks comely in her light colored smocks and sweaters Olivia is enticing the first moment we see her with her snug skirt and plunging neckline.
Olivia and Malison are on two different trajectories. As they delve into Somberac's request and this death ritual Olivia then becomes the doubter and Malison becomes fixated on his plight. Her need for belonging and acceptance has delivered her into the hands of Somberac and his caretaker Edgar. It is now Olivia who begins to back out from the assignment and Malison who accepts it and will carry it, damn the consequences.
Jessie Thomas Cook's love letter to the rural horror genre drips and oozes with so much atmosphere that it could sustain a whole planet. The setting of the old house is beautiful and eerie. The interiors are awash by candlelight most of the time. He changes it up during the ritual by washing out all colors except for shades of red, which will be obvious when you watch the film.
While the film comes close to the end with the carrying out of Somberac's chosen method of assisted-suicide Burgess' screenplay does not go as for out as one expects. While previous screenplays of his have had a certain bombastic air to them there is a civility to his work here in The Hexecutioners. It does not stray too far away from the structure of similar rural horror flicks from the sub-genre's hey day in that it builds slowly to a frantic finish, but one that Cook decides to slow down so that we have time to digest the grotesqueness of the death ritual. Admittedly, I found the false ending of the ritual a little off putting, specifically the jarring switch back to real time but as vengeful spirits are wont to do they still want their vengeance. Someone still has to pay penance for their deaths.
The Hexecutioners displays a departure from Cook's prior films and one that plays against the expectations that one may have about Burgess' screenplays. What we get is a matured and controlled film from the Canadian filmmaker who made his mark with gritty films like the body slamming Monster Brawl and the vomitus Septic Man. Do not be dismayed, Cook does play around with the gore.
This is a film involving a death cult and ritual killings after all.
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