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World Premiere
  • USA
  • 2013
  • 90 mins
  • DCP
  • English
Hosted by Director Anthony DiBlasi

In the wake of her mother’s death and recently separated from her husband Ian (Kip Pardue, seen on MAD MEN), single mother Katherine (Dawn Olivieri of Showtime’s HOUSE OF LIES) is having a difficult time raising her young son Kesley on her own. Not suffering from an absent husband per se, she nonetheless longs for companionship, support and some sense of direction in her new paradigm. One day, as she practices with Kesley for his football tryouts, Elders Lillejock and Brock of the Church of Latter Day Saints visit her home. Affable and good with the boy, Elder Brock (an excellent Mitch Ryan) quickly catches her attention and so begins a sacrilegiously romantic affair that has everything of an escapist fairy tale for both of them. At least at first… Pulled back towards her husband and determined to make it work for the sake of her son, Katherine makes a choice and Brock’s true temper is glimpsed at. Terrifyingly quickly, things start becoming worrisome for all involved...

Indie horror director Anthony DiBlasi (the terrific Clive Barker adaptation DREAD, Fantasia 2009) is back with a mean, lean and brutally efficient slow-burning thriller, one that starts quietly, almost idyllically, yet skids off into familial nightmare at an assured pace. Playing almost entirely on the inherent fear that many people have of strangers, their possible delusions and perhaps worse, their bubbling insanity, MISSIONARY also looks at the figure of the man of faith as complex and unpredictable, while also exploring the duplicitous nature that is easily attributed to missionaries of all ilk. However, far from simplistic in its treatment of religion and its figures, Diblasi directs a limpid and realistic film, handling his villain respectfully and refreshingly thus making him come across as completely believable. In addition to the downward-spiraling events of his film, Diblasi weaves in a terrific evocation of the aura and hardships of living in a tight-knit, small-town Florida; the film’s characters shown to be transitioning figures in an otherwise stable world that unexpected violence has come to disturb. Organized religion hasn’t been this scary since RED STATE tore down the Hall theater in 2011, believe us!

Fantasia 2013 - Missionary from Fantasia Film Festival on Vimeo.

— Ariel Esteban Cayer