The Veil (2016 film)

The Veil

Official poster
Directed by Phil Joanou
Produced by
Written by Robert Ben Garant
Music by Nathan Whitehead
Cinematography Steeven Petitteville
Edited by Paul Norling
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • January 19, 2016 (2016-01-19) (United States)
Running time
93 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $4 million[1]

The Veil is a 2016 American supernatural horror film directed by Phil Joanou and written by Robert Ben Garant. Jason Blum serves as a producer through his production company Blumhouse Productions. The film stars Jessica Alba, Lily Rabe, Aleksa Palladino, Reid Scott, and Thomas Jane. The film was released on January 19, 2016, through video on demand prior to being released through home media formats on February 2, 2016, by Universal Pictures.[2][3]


Twenty five years after members of Heaven's Veil, a religious cult, commit suicide, documentary filmmaker Maggie Price contacts the sole survivor, Sarah Hope, to film a documentary about what really happened. Sarah, who was five years old when she was found at the scene, accepts when she learns that Maggie has found evidence that never-recovered footage exists. Maggie's brother, Christian, explains that their father was the FBI agent who led the investigation. Shortly after discovering the mass suicide, he committed suicide, driving Maggie and Christian to learn the truth. With her crew, Maggie takes Sarah to the site of the cult's suicide.

They shoot footage of Sarah's reaction to coming back and are concerned when she collapses, overwhelmed by memories and ghostly visions. After they set up camp for the night, Sarah wakes from a nightmare to find that the crew are looking for the grip, Ed, who has disappeared with their van. Ann, the sound editor, and Nick, the gaffer, leave to find Ed. The others follow Sarah, who has remembered the location of a house hidden within the forest. Inside, they find the lost footage and missing cult member Karen Sweetzer's decomposed corpse. In a tape found near her body, Karen rants about not being controlled and briefly addresses Sarah before dying.

After repairing the projector, they begin watching the remaining footage. In it, Jim Jacobs, the leader of Heaven's Veil, describes how he has uncovered the secret to eternal life. By designing drugs with his knowledge of alchemy, he hopes to free his followers' spirits from their bodies. They also learn that Karen is Sarah's mother. Sarah experiences further visions when she talks to her mother, confessing that she feels conflicted about returning. Ann and Nick return, only to reveal that Ed has died in a high-speed car accident. Jill, the sound editor, argues they should leave, but Maggie and Sarah insist that they continue watching the tapes. The others reluctantly agree.

In the later tapes, Jim experiments with dangerous drugs to help him temporarily cross over to the spirit realm. During one trance, he possesses a cult member and announces that he has freed the first of three bindings from her soul. Ghosts kill Nick when he leaves to restart the house's generator; he later rejoins the others and kills Ann when they are alone. Ann and Nick return together to continue watching the tapes. Jim reveals further experiments in the footage, where he administers poison to himself. He removes the second binding from his soul, then returns once the antidote is applied to him.

After hearing ghostly whispers, the remaining documentary filmmakers become convinced that the house is haunted. Jill and Matt, the cameraman, leave. They find Ed apparently alive. As Jill applies first aid, Matt leaves to get help. Ed kills Jill, and they return to the house. Sarah holds a seance to communicate with her mother, who demands that she entice the documentary filmmakers to stay at the house. Sarah murders Christian, who rises and joins her to continue watching the footage with the others, all of whom but Maggie are now possessed.

In the final reel, Jim reveals that the poison administered to the cult members was supposed to be counteracted by an antidote. Karen objects to giving poison to the children and allows Sarah to flee. Jim is revealed to be Sarah's father and forces Karen to take the poison when she resists. Karen leaves with the footage for the house, where she dies. Before the cult can administer the antidote to themselves, the FBI arrive and interrupt the ceremony. Denied the antidote, the cult members all die. In the present, Sarah reveals that the cult members have possessed the documentary filmmakers, and Jim, possessing Ed, nails Maggie to a tree despite her protests that her father did not know about the antidote. The police arrive with Matt, only to be killed by the cult members, who now possess their bodies, too. Jim announces his plan to feed upon the souls of the rest of the world.



Originally, the film was supposed to be found footage. When the team felt found footage had run its course, Robert Ben Garant re-wrote his script to make it more traditional.[1] In February 2014, Thomas Jane joined the cast of the film.[4] Director Phil Joanou and Jane had collaborated on the short film The Punisher: Dirty Laundry, and Joanou offered the role to Jane. Jane rewrote most of his character's dialog to convert him from a fundamentalist Christian to an occultist.[1] Jane's rewrites included twenty pages of more material, most of which was shot and subsequently edited down. Jane was inspired by religious leaders Jim Jones and David Koresh, but he also mixed in elements of a rock star.[5]

Also in February, it was announced that Jessica Alba[6] and Lily Rabe joined the cast.[7] Alba had worked with producer Jason Blum on Stretch in a cameo, and Blum wanted to give her a larger role. She was previously attached to the film when it was still in found footage format, and Joanou had to repitch the film to her once it was rewritten.[1] April 2014, Reid Scott[8] and Meegan Warner joined.[9]

Shooting took place over 25 days. Joanou said the conversion from found footage format left him little time to complete the film, as the scenes became necessarily more complex. Joanou called it his most difficult shoot.[5]

Marketing and release

In February 2014, it was announced that Universal Pictures would be distributing the film, a part of their first-look deal with Blumhouse Productions.[10][11] In January 2016, released the first images from the film, as well as the trailer and three posters for the film.[12]

Home media

The film was released in the United States on January 19, 2016, through video on demand and Netflix prior to being released on home media formats on February 2, 2016.[2][3][13] The film was released direct-to-DVD in Canada on February 2, 2016,[14] and in the United Kingdom on April 4, 2016.[15]


Ken W. Hanley of Fangoria described the premise – that Jim Jones could have been right – as intriguing, but he said the rest of the film does not live up to the premise. Citing Jane's acting, Hanley concluded, "Overall, even if it doesn't fully connect, The Veil is an ultimately fascinating horror effort that is worth a watch."[16] Matt Donato of We Got This Covered rated it 2.5/5 stars and wrote, "The Veil's constant visual greyness highlights the mundane nature of this supernatural cultism flick, even in recognizing Thomas Jane's wonderfully demented antagonist."[17] Staci Layne Wilson of Dread Central rated it 3/5 stars and wrote, "The Veil could have been a truly scary supernatural thriller about the power of a collective consciousness, but instead it's just a halfway decent time waster that's mostly memorable for Jane's performance."[18]


  1. 1 2 3 4 Hemphill, Jim (January 21, 2016). "Shooting a Movie in 25 Days for Blumhouse: Phil Joanou on The Veil". Retrieved January 21, 2016.
  2. 1 2 Miska, Brad (January 8, 2016). "Universal's 'The Veil' Going Straight to Video". Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  3. 1 2 "The Veil". Retrieved January 17, 2016.
  4. Kit, Borys (February 13, 2014). "Thomas Jane Reteams With Phil Joanou for Blumhouse's 'The Veil". Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  5. 1 2 Burns, Andy (February 6, 2016). "Exclusive: An interview with Phil Joanou, director of The Veil". Rue Morgue. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  6. Kit, Borys (February 14, 2014). "Jessica Alba in Talks to Join Thomas Jane in 'The Veil'". Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  7. Kit, Borys (February 24, 2014). "'American Horror Story's' Lily Rabe to Star in Jason Blum's 'The Veil'". Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  8. Yamato, Jen (April 10, 2014). "'Veep's Reid Scott Cast In Trio Of Features". Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  9. The Deadline Team (April 3, 2014). "John Leguizamo, Lynn Collins & Jim Belushi Cast In 'The Man On Carrion Road'; Meegan Warner Joins 'The Veil". Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  10. Kit, Borys (February 24, 2014). "'American Horror Story's' Lily Rabe to Star in Jason Blum's 'The Veil'". Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  11. Kit, Borys (February 13, 2014). "Thomas Jane Reteams With Phil Joanou for Blumhouse's 'The Veil". Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  12. Goldberg, Matt (January 8, 2016). "The Veil': Check out the Exclusive Trailer for the Supernatural Thriller Starring Jessica Alba and Thomas Jane". Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  13. Miska, Brad (January 19, 2016). "Trio of Blumhouse Titles Drop Directly to Netflix". Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  14. "The Veil". Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  15. "The Veil [DVD] [2015]". Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  16. Hanley, Ken W. (January 26, 2016). "Stream to Scream: The Veil". Fangoria. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  17. Donato, Matt (January 25, 2016). "The Veil Review". We Got This Covered. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  18. Wilson, Staci Layne (February 2, 2016). "Veil, The (2016)". Dread Central. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
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