It is a strange transitioning time in the world of film that we all know and love. With so many new avenues of distribution, crowd-funding, streaming and downloading changing not only the way we watch movies, but how they are made and delivered to us as well. Some people fear that the big budget juggernauts will destroy the efforts of the little guys, and that shift is not far off.
And in this shaky entertainment environment, it is a great thing to see a truly independent film hold its own. Revelation Trail is a film that has followed it’s own rocky path for over six years now, as a passion project for director John Gibson and the crowd of supporters and help that he found along the way.
The film had the support of a successful Kickstarter fund a few years back and garnered the support of hundreds of people across the country who helped create the reality of the film. They shot the film in just twenty days, everyone kicking in to do their part to make the epic story of undead in the west come to life. They slept in garages, made brains out of ham slices, transformed vacuum cleaners into guns and turned their backyards into countryside vistas.
With the generous help of volunteers and reenactors across Kentucky, Illinois, and Ohio, the film’s crew managed to get the film shot and it is now ready for consumption for us, the horror fans!
Revelation Trail tells the story of a man known only as The Preacher, starting off “somewhere in 1882″ as he tells the tale from a scarred future.
The scene is set beautifully as some ruffians arrive at the preacher’s home one late night, looking for shelter. He generously allows them to shack up in his barn, as he sets in for the night to protect his lovely young wife and child.
A sudden zombie outbreak erupts and the Preacher is forced to leave his hometown behind as it is quickly overcome by the hordes of the undead. He joins forces with the town’s Marshal and the two embark on an uneasy quest for survival.
This framework provides the perfect opportunity for the meat of the film, which turns out to be a complicated character study of two diverse individuals facing the unknown in their own unique ways.
The sudden zombie apocalypse has no explanation of course, and the unlikely duo struggle against both the undead and themselves. For example, the Preacher insists on burying and “delivering” each of the recently twice-dead, as the Marshal prefers to look on and sip from his flask.
In the time between the conception of this unique idea back in 2006 until its recent completion, we horror fans have seen nearly every conceivable take on the “zombie story”, with the rare exception of the Zombie Western. I will even admit to feeling a bit of zombie fatigue lately, as many of these recent films have been tired rehashes of things we have seen many times before.
That is the genius of Revelation Trail. The zombies are secondary to the characters and their own reactions to the insane new reality that they find themselves in.
And these are some great characters, played perfectly by Daniel Van Thomas and Daniel Britt ans The Preacher and The Marshal, respectively. Their antithetic banter is the key to everything that works in the film, and really transcend the homemade aesthetics at times.
The practical effects really get the job done, however, when we get to see the descending hordes of undead, particularly later in the film. The atmosphere is tense and the zombies look great and there is something really haunting about blood-soaked prairie girls. The practical effects are convincing and really amazing considering the wardrobe department dressed the extras for about four dollars each, thanks to local thrift shops.
When our pair reaches a well-protected fort late in the film, it is hard to believe that the period-accurate set was constructed by volunteers in two weeks time, mostly from discarded barn wood!
Overall, Revelation Trail is great proof that the independent spirit is still very much alive and well in the world of horror films. A very entertaining film made from the blood sweat and tears of a few passionate individuals with a great idea.
Visit the official Facebook page for the film for more news and information, and also their Youtube channel which features several short films expanding on the story.
Check out the trailer for Revelation Trail below and find the film on DVD from Entertainment One, available now!