The Leech Movie Review

Written by Joel Harley

Released by Arrow Video


Written and directed by Eric Pennycoff
2022, 82 minutes, Not Yet Rated
FrightFest UK Premiere on 27th Agust 2022

Jeremy Gardner as Terry
Graham Skipper as Father David
Taylor Zaudtke as Lexi
Rigo Garay as Rigo


The introverted host’s worst nightmare is manifested in this Christmas horror story by Eric Pennycoff. House guests, who just won’t leave. Kindly priest David (Graham Skipper) invites this terror into his home when he attempts to do a good deed for a struggling homeless couple at Christmastime.

It’s not long before slovenly house guests Terry (Jeremy Gardner) and Lexi (Taylor Zaudtke) are taking liberties – drinking, smoking, listening to heavy metal and eating fried chicken in a disgusting manner – all over the priest’s carefully ordered abode. And that’s not to mention the orgies.

the leech 01 the leech 02

The follow-up feature to Pennycoff’s Sadistic Intentions – itself a lean and nasty piece of work, and one of my favourites of that year – The Leech reunites two of that film’s stars, real-life couple Gardner and Zaudtke. While it also recycles some of the former’s broad themes (a naïve innocent, tortured by malevolent outsiders in a house), The Leech is an altogether odder affair, its thrills more psychological than the violent trauma of Sadistic Intentions. Less toe-cutting, more toe-curling.

the leech 03 the leech 04

What does emerge is a hilariously grotesque take on the home invasion movie (but not really), with the story driven entirely by the characters’ toxicity to each other (and also whiskey and cocaine). It’s a grubby version of Mother! or Funny Games with Christmas Vacation’s Cousin Eddie as one of the antagonists. Combining comedy horror with shockingly bleak psychological misery, Pennycoff then wraps the whole thing up in Christmas baubles and festive glitter.

the leech 05 the leech 06

The less said about the rest of it, the better. The Leech is best experienced blind, its character beats taken in firsthand. Suffice to say that The Leech confirms what Sadistic Intentions had already suggested – that Pennycoff is one of the most exciting voices working in horror today.


Movie: 4 Star Rating Cover

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Joel Harley
Staff Reviewer
Haribo fiend, Nicolas Cage scholar and frequently functioning alcoholic. These are just some of the words which can be used to describe Joel Harley. The rest, he uses to write film criticism for Horror DNA and a variety of websites and magazines. Sometimes he manages to do so without swearing.
Other articles by this writer



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