The Catechism Cataclysm to some degree as a satiric take on storytelling in both religious and secular circles. Sorry to say, that's about as far as my appreciation goes. This horror-comedy with cult aspirations opens today in Los Angeles, having premiered earlier this year as an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival.
Steve Little (The Ugly Truth) stars as a thoroughly obnoxious Catholic priest, Fr. Billy. His bishop and pastor send him off on a sabbatical after Fr. Billy tells one inappropriate parable too many to his parishioners. Fr. Billy decides to take an extensive canoe trip, but not before tracking down his high-school musical idol, Robbie (Robert Longstreet, who can also be seen currently in the excellent Take Shelter), and bribing him into coming along for the ride.
Before this Catholic campfire story run amok draws to a close, a bible is dropped into a diarrhea-filled toilet, Fr. Billy and Robbie cross paths with a pair of wacky Asian girls and their sinister driver, and someone's head explodes. Fr. Billy, however, learns valuable lessons in effective preaching.
I once had an assistant priest named Fr. Billy, and I once had a man as uncomfortably close to me on his knees during confession as depicted in one scene of The Catechism Cataclysm. That's where any similarities to reality end. The movie has a film school vibe to it even though writer-director Todd Rohal and his producers and actors are fairly accomplished. Perhaps most detrimentally, it only runs 81 minutes but feels much longer.
The Catechism Cataclysm could potentially catch on as a midnight movie event, with attendees wearing Fr. Billy's signature clergy shirt and bike helmet. God knows, stranger things have happened.
Reverend's Rating: C-
Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Blade California.