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 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.
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 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.
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