It wasn't but a year ago that BH Tilt almost instantly dubbed itself as the dumping arm of Blumhouse- unceremoniously dropping four titles onto Netflix that previously had been shuffled around in limbo for some time. Does this speak to the quality of the films dumped? Perhaps, though I will stand firmly in defense of Bryan Bertino's Mockingbird. So what's to be made of the recent crop of Netflix dumps which include Visions, Curve, and the topic for this review...The Veil?
The easiest way to say it would be that BH Tilt may very well be "The Island of Misfit Toys" for movies that Blumhouse has no idea what to do with (Eli Roth's cannibal flick The Green Inferno also found a home under this label) and have little to no mainstream appeal. That might also be the nicest way to say it. These films will no doubt find someone who finds it on the right day and finds the strength to defend them, but not today- well maybe a little bit today.
The Veil is essentially a mushed together blob of The Sacrament and Sinister- but without the tension or scares. It follows a documentary crew led by Maggie (played by the beautiful but rarely enjoyable Jessica Alba) who talk Sarah (American Horror Story: Asylum's Lily Rabe), the lone survivor of a religious cult, to return to the scene of the cult's infamous mass suicide 25 years prior. While there, the crew uncover a slew of lost tapes that document the cult's leader Jim Jacobs (Thomas Jane), carrying out a series of bizarre experiments with the aim of proving that one's soul can live from body to body beyond death.
On the surface The Veil is just your typical run-of-the-mill semi-supernatural affair. Nothing too offensive to get your blood boiling, in fact it's quite the contrary. In spite of its below average content, the film's secret weapon lies in the acting chops of Mr. Thomas Jane. The veteran actor has participated in his fair share of guilty pleasure type of movies, but his performance here is something to behold. Jane's over-the-top monologues and theatrical presentation make some undeniably entertaining moments. Still, it's not hard to see why Blumhouse and company were not sure how this type of lunacy would play to a wider audience, which makes it perfect for something like Netflix.
Sadly enough, beyond the back and forth give and take that is Jane's "sometimes good, sometimes laughably bad" performance there is nothing else all that redeeming about the film as a whole. Even the lovely and talented Lily Rabe struggles to elevate the moments away from the dusty VHS tapes featuring Jane and his babbling incoherence. Far too often scenes devolve into lazy dialogue that feels inconsequential to the plot or tension being capped with a terribly telegraphed jumped scare.
The film boasts scenes that feel drained almost entirely of energy and color. The Veil succeeds only on the shoulders of Thomas Jane's ostentatious performance and even then there's only so much entertainment value that can be shaken from that loose fitting robe. At its best and worst, The Veil is kinda like plain toast- flavorless yet filling in the right situation..particularly hangovers. In short, sit down with your favorite adult beverage, take in Jane's performance, then move on with your life.