Director: Stuart Brennan
Starring: Stuart Brennan, Marcus Macleod, Mark Paul Wake….UK. 1h 28m
This darkly twisted fairy tale follows a group of soldiers fleeing a war zone who find themselves lost deep in the woods where only magical things can happen.This British horror with a small budget definitely dreams big and while it has a solid story the execution comes across a little trying.
There is evil inside all of us.
After deciding that war isn’t for them, a handful of men from all areas of the British isles flee the Napoleonic wars, on the way back to Britain, they find themselves deep in the freezing Black Forest, thinking of old fairy tales and soon hearing voices. One by one they all encounter the source of the dark whispers, but with reference to a woman they wronged before leaving for war, their indiscretions are soon used against them as they are preyed upon by dark magical forces.
Drawing on ideas of retribution, guilt, Hans Christian Anderson and in my honest opinion, the Ritual (2017), this delightful idea is really spot on but the execution really isn’t quite there, and at times a bit child like. I wouldn’t ever want to criticize Stuart Brennan’s cinematic career, he’s incredibly active and always with something different, but I do wonder if maybe he’s spreading himself too thin?
Unlike Dog Soldiers (2002) where a group of loyal British soldiers unknowingly walk into a trap and are then hunted by Werewolves, we want them to fight and make it through the night, in stark contrast this crew of douchebag deserters each did something treacherous in their past, luckily it’s pulled from their psyche and used against them. The set up becomes a tad repetitive, a distant voice in the forest is heard by a target, he wanders off and then he’s away with the fairy with dis formed nipples, and tortured in some gruesome way. It’s almost interesting to see it played out in this way as Brennan tries to toy with our perception of the truth, but the fun is drained from the story due to the repetition and it begins to feel labored.
All said and done it works, it’s not as fully worked as it could be, but with the rise of Folk Horrors out there, a bit more homework and some flare with the kills would be the difference of night and day.
Sadly the villain failed to really scare as much as it could have, despite the threats to always be watching, it was just a bit of a weak final display, but the previous torture scenes were ok, each man is slowly picked apart someone they victimised in the past, but they generally reappear with some costume shop horns and a flashback.
Not offensive but does rely on a bit of audience gullibility to really achieve its goal, for me it was harmless horror fun.
Despite this being a little weary I really am addicted to Breannas movies, they have a flavour of their own which if they tick all the boxes but I wish I could work out what lets them down, hopefully he will work it out and finally hit out a real winner and more knees and kilts please 😀