Synopsis by Nathan Southern
Brian Kirk's gothic thriller Middletown excoriates the actions and attitudes of the Irish Catholic clergy by honing in on one psychotically deranged fire-and-brimstone preacher. Matthew MacFadyen is Gabriel Hunter, a priest fresh from missions work in Africa. After 15 years of service in the field, Gabriel returns to his hometown in Ireland to occupy the now-vacant pulpit. Once there, he re-encounters three members of his working-class brood: his father, Bill Hunter (Gerard McSorley); his younger brother, the service station attendant Jim (Daniel Mays); and Jim's expectant wife Caroline (Eva Birthistle), who runs the local speakeasy. The family welcomes Gabriel home, but from the first moments of his arrival, he projects a violent, hair-trigger temper; relentless, psychopathic bursts of unchecked anger; and a sadistic obsession with inflicting pain and cruelty on everything and everyone around him -- from squelching live mice beneath his heels to strangling the neck of a chicken that he seizes during a cockfight. From the pulpit, Gabriel uses sermons to relentlessly damn the members of his congregation for their sins, including all activity at the local pub, which he perceives as a den of iniquity. When Gabriel hears Caroline's refusal to have her child baptized, the statement pushes him completely over the edge and triggers a string of increasingly violent acts that will bring the entire community to its knees -- and threaten the lives and safety of Bill, Jim, Caroline, and the newborn baby. Daragh Carville authored the script.
clergy, cruelty, family-dynamics, obsession, priest