A frontier preacher’s life is destroyed when a gruesome power consumes the land; he now must make the choice to give in to ruin, or find his purpose in the fight against the mysterious undead. Joined by the town lawman (who has entirely different personal demons to confront), the two men learn the extremes they’re willing to go to in order to make it to the next day, as well as the depths people will go to when they truly believe in something.
Revelation Trail is a 2013 western zombie survival film that follows a preacher’s trials surviving the loss of his family to the walking dead in the form of a slow buddy cop style western.
The Preacher, played by Daniel Van Thomas, is the local preacher for the town of . After a night in which he allows two men who, without The Preacher’s knowledge, had violated a family to stay in his barn for the night and one of the men was previously bitten by a zombie, The Preacher asks Marshall Edwards, played by Daniel Britt, about the two men and finds they may have been responsible for the empty, bloody home Edwards is asking around town about.
Addressing the worst of the film first, it opens with a rape scene. This is clearly to define the character of the first two antagonists of the film yet as because they end up becoming zombies early on and are dealt with in a short amount of time thereafter their actions could have been something akin to theft and the whole film would have been no different for it.
When using serious and grievous acts to build characters, those acts should be handled carefully, be relevant to the character as they relate to the story and be used on characters relevant to the overall story.
The town quickly falls to chaos after The Preacher and his son return home and the son is left alone to be attacked by one of the two zombie criminals. The Preacher runs to town leaving his wife with his son and discovers the other criminal as a zombie. Enraged, The Preacher guns him down and is locked up by Edwards who is still naive to the situation.
After Edwards goes out to make sure The Preacher’s family is alright he discovers they, along with a surrounding crowd of others, are already turned. Edwards goes back to town, releases and arms The Preacher and then guides them both out of town escaping the chaos.
From the wife, played by Jordan Elizabeth, and the other actors in their bit parts, most of the acting is clean and well handled with the exception of The Preacher who at times seems to overdo his lines and reads them out like a man trying to act out his own suffering.
The story supports itself through all of this and the characters build in a decent fashion. The Preacher is narrating events and as he does show he demonstrates his change in the film and Edwards holds up as a stern and quick Marshall through events, even when the clear madness of things begins.
Even the first scene beyond town is well structured with Edwards explaining his demeanor as a drunk and a firm believer of the law while The Preacher tries to understand and reach one of the undead in a bear trap so he might know what he faces.
The two even find another man, but Edwards shoots the man’s now turned son and shoots the man in kind after he jumps at Edwards. This leads to more debate between the two and a dark understanding of how they differ.
Everything from there forward is a buddy cop film of sorts in which The Preacher and Edwards begin to better understand each other through deep talks on faith, strained conversation and misspoken words in regards to the suffering both endure.
Whether or not this ruins the tone of the film or makes on odd blend to an already offset western horror film is mostly up to the audience.
After the two experience more horror by finding a dog one day and it being eaten alive in their sleep the next morning, followed by more travel montages, the two come to a fort taken over by a survivors and led by Samuel Beard, played by Robert Valentine, who makes decisions that at first seem harsh but build into risky bets and dangerous gambles for the survivors in the fort.
Between Beard’s imperial rule, the suffering of the people in the fort and the experiences outside the fort walls Edwards becomes convinced that Beard and his men are not prepared and is of a mind to leave. The Preacher agrees and as they plan to head out the next day Beard is seen killing a man for having an indeterminate wound in front of the man’s family.
The Preacher is convinced by this and the grief of a woman who killed her own children before they could be bitten that he needs to stay and help the people. Edwards stands by him but as the men find out a horde of zombies are coming for the fort the two decide that everyone should leave however Beard forces the fort to reinforce and defend itself despite the clear risk, having Beard force his men to kill anyone who decides to leave or enter the fort.
At times the conflict between The Preacher and the two protagonists seems difficult to comprehend as any reasonable man in this situation would talk out their options as opposed to forcing an impossible defense, doubled by the fort of people following him who could also have the thought in mind that staying is death. This makes Beard cartoonish and confused with the people po0f the fort insane for allowing it to stand.
The climax comes when night falls and Edwards forces The Preacher out the back gate while Edwards causes a distraction so The Preacher can get away without Beard’s men shooting him. The gates fall, Edwards kills Beard, The Preacher makes his way to the next town and the story comes full circle as we see The Preacher narrating the last of the tale to a bartender who shot himself.
Despite most of the actors being decent, the solid characters and the whole of the film being shot with only some of the action scenes and zombies looking awkward the film lacks because of a real poor second half and a disappointing ending as Edwards doesn’t need to sacrifice himself with the men all being distracted by the horde of zombies.
The good elements still make the film worth watching, but not more than once or twice. If you happen to come across it by hand off or find it for cheap then give it a try. As a personal recommendation however, skip the first two minutes of the film as that rape scene is wholly unnecessary to the whole of the film.