Ordinarily, explaining the concept of a short would be bad form to even consider, but Rites of Vengeance’s simple setup of a trio of nuns taking matters into their own hands after discovering the actions of a perverted priest, along with its very title declaring what kind of tale it is, it can’t be considered that much of a spoiler to simply confirm the conclusion it’s pretty safe to assume you’ve already leapt to.
Abject contempt is seared into the faces of the three women, juxtaposing the self-deific serenity possessed by their target (someone who eminently deserves what’s coming to them can’t really be called a victim) before they confront him, his face then contorting into mute pleas for mercy that is not forthcoming. The item each nun carries and used in the attack is in its own way representative of a child’s shattered innocence, and through them they channel back on the priest, the hurt he has inflicted on innocents. These are women who have taken an oath to devote themselves to God, and with their decision to hold a criminal accountable for his actions; they assume the role of holy avengers on behalf of the young lives ruined by the callous actions of a filthy old man.
Despite a legacy of cover ups, everyone is well aware of the sickening atrocities committed by paedophile priests, and with this one being forced to face up to his actions by nuns, the film suggests that as the church is accountable for creating an atmosphere in which such abuse can be perpetuated, it thus has the responsibility to do something about it, something far more lasting than shielding child molesters from true justice and simply moving them to a new location where their abuse can and will continue.
It’s a testament to the clarity of the storytelling that the film neither uses nor requires a single word of dialogue to relate it, but is also a sad testimony to just how pervasive are the crimes against which the nuns are retaliating. The seething vitriol is silently screamed from every frame, and with countless others out there guilty of similar crimes, you can easily imagine the nuns continuing their cleansing of the House of God.
Even by the standards of shorts films Rites of Vengeance is a brief one, but is nevertheless equally grim and atmospheric, made all the more impacting from its unflinching portrayal of an emotional subject.
RITES OF VENGEANCE / CERT: TBA / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: IZZY LEE / STARRING: SILVIA GRAZIANO, MICHAEL THURBER, STEE MCMORRIS, HEATHER BUCKLEY / RELEASE DATE: TBA