The last days before Christmas, the season of giving and goodwill to all, a message which Father David preaches to his sparse and indifferent congregation, the only member of whom who remains for any length of time after the sermon is the vagrant asleep on the rear pews whom he charitably offering a lift home.
Finding the house locked and his belongings thrown out in the snow, with no other place to go David offers Terry a room for the night, a stay which expands in scope and duration as he first moves in his girlfriend Lexi then asks if they can both remain until after Christmas is over and they can get back on their feet, a request David would feel unable to refuse in the circumstances given his position in the community even if he had not already been maneuvered into it.
A caustic cautionary tale, The Leech is a festive celebration of togetherness and understanding written and directed by Eric Pennycoff with Almost Human’s Graham Skipper the patient and forgiving Father David, as he tolerates the drinking, drugs, profanity, debauchery and ungodly music of Terry (Offseason’s Jeremy Gardner) and Lexi (After Midnight’s Taylor Gardner), determined to live up to the example of Christ and continue offering shelter to these wayward souls despite extreme provocation.
Less abrasive than Terry, Lexi is nonetheless of concern to David who believes that she anonymously came to him in confession and told him she was considering an abortion, something which he cannot speak of openly with either of them but a decision which he feels compelled to dissuade her from even as he is drawn into their tangled toxic relationship, the boundaries which he tries to maintain dissolving in a haze of alcohol.
A slacker by nature but savvy when it serves his purpose, Terry is a snake in a garden already neglected, a catalyst for disaster dragging down everyone around him, but despite some outrageous moments The Leech never descends into anarchy or parody, Pennycoff rounding the characters so even Terry can be kind in his own offhand, blunt way, making the festive nightmare and David’s discomfiture and shame all the more real, a seasonal tragedy of deeply flawed people rather than monsters.
The Leech released on Blu-ray by Arrow, their edition contains two commentaries, a visual essay on Pennycoff’s earlier films, three of which, Unfortunate, The Pod and Phase II are elsewhere on the disc, an interview with Pennycoff and Skipper and entertaining footage from the FrightFest screening where the duo are subjected to “breathtakingly unhinged” questioning about their “horny holiday horror.”
The Leech will be available on Blu-ray from Arrow from Monday 5th December