A desperate young man wanders into town looking for food and shelter. A progressive pastor tries to open the minds of his Old Testament congregation. A born again, recovering alcoholic fights for his church. A pastor’s wife looks to her gay husband for salvation. All of this comes to a scorching climax and an old-time revival that the film’s small-town won’t soon forget.
An exceptional feature-length debut from director Jennifer Gerber and screenwriter Samuel Brett Williams, The Revival explores faith in the Deep South in a drama that asks how far you’re willing to go for the things you believe in.
Eli (David Rysdahl) is a young preacher who has recently returned to his small, Arkansas hometown with his pregnant wife (Lucy Faust). Harvard-educated, Eli is more progressive than your average Southern Baptist preacher, and he’s looking to incorporate some of his forward-thinking into the sermons at his deceased father’s struggling church. Of course, that news does not go down easy with most of his parishioners, who still cling to the “fire and brimstone” portions of the bible.
Things get even more complicated when Daniel (Keep the Lights On star Zachary Booth) shows up at a church potluck. An alluring, mysterious drifter passing through town, Daniel brings out the savior (and a few other things) in Eli. Offering his new acquaintance shelter in a secluded cabin, Eli finds himself more and more drawn to Daniel. The two are soon deep in the throes of a secret affair, and their blossoming romance begins to threaten everything that Eli has worked so hard to establish.
Originating as an off-Broadway stage play by Williams, who adapted his own work for the film, The Revival is edgy, erotic and powerful. “We aim to challenge audiences to deeper understand issues of repression and hate,” said director Jennifer Gerber. “It’s vital to me that my films tackle real stories from the south. In my opinion, The Revival is a story that needs to be told. Given the current political climate we are in, I want to delve into the psychology of a community of people that make up much of our country but very little of our popular culture.”
The Revival is available on Dekkoo now. Check out the trailer below.