Tag Archives: Folk Horror

The Curse of Aubrey Ernshaw (2020)

AKA Blood Harvest

Director: Thomas Robert Lee Starring:Catherine Walker, Jared Abrahams, Sean McGinley, Jessuca Reynold, Don McKellar. USA. 1h 34m

For the most part, The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw is a slightly perplexing pagan tale, seeming to take roots from a host of folklore horror classics but while it’s a masterclass of cinematography and there’s nothing negative to be said about the acting, there’s just not really enough here to bite into, or at least nothing we haven’t seen done better elsewhere.

Continue reading The Curse of Aubrey Ernshaw (2020)

Draug (2018)

Directors: Karin Engman, Klas Persson 
Starring: Elna Karlsson, Thomas Hedengran, Ralf Beck, Nine Filimoshkina, Urban Bergsten. Sweden. 1h 27m

There’s been a modern trend of directors getting back to their ruddy roots and finding terror in the wood which is the driving force in this potent doom folk horror, as local hero’s search for a missing man of the cloth. Draug keeps a sharp edge through it’s dynamic set up of a foul mouthed beer swigging clan leader Kettil (Hedengran), his highly sensitive and possibly psychic adopted daughter Nanna (Karlsson), his main squeeze and apparently his bravest men.

It feels very “authentic” drab colours, crazy locals and lots of beer; it’s the stereotypical perception of any European pagan infused settlement, while not being historically accurate ,if gives you what you’d expect, and more, there are few whoopie moments, modern clothing being the main culprit, it will be interesting to see how many other goods a professional could pick out!?

After setting out, the rescue team start at the last place where the missionary was seen, a quite neighboring village but all they find there is beer and stories about the creepy woods, the only event is Nanna getting creped out by a demented old woman, signs start to appear that adopted daughter is quite different from the other morals around her and the movie hinges on her discovering her origins and powers.

Draug sits well between scandanivan journey epics like Wolfhound (2006) with touches of the dark mysticism of Sauna (2008), yet it really doesn’t know if it wants to be an action flick or something more supernatural. Without having the massive budget or drive, at times Draug flounders, yet manages to keep a somewhat brooding sense of danger until the final act, when all hell is supposed to break loose but this is where the lack of budget trips the production up and it ends up being an extended episode of Nightmare(1987-1994), the mood changes to some kind of ethereal neon lit world and a new entity finally makes itself known within layers of lightning struck scenery side steps all the good build up that the movie achieved until then.

Oft in the woods, is a listener nigh – Grettir’s Saga

There could be more character development apart from the ale quaffing kind and his daughter everyone else is just mud soaked Viking some braver than others but there’s no real emphasis on who these characters are. There’s a lot of technical and acting fails, see if you can catch modern clothes, people looking for the camera and lots of focal adjustments.

“Where’s the bloody beer”

Kettil

It’s great to see the forest being used a home for monsters yet again, it’s certainly nothing new in folk horror sub genre, it happens time and time again but the strength of Draug is firstly with its approach of there being some peace between the religious and pagan people, and then in it’s bitter ending. Engman and Persson make a bold leap into the European fairytale narrative where there are no happy endings. There’s a lot to admire with the approach to feminine strength Nanna has to make some difficult choices, finding her a dark secret within her bloodline is something the film is set up to do from the beginning but the implications are so very damning. Draug is surely one that needs to be seen to encompass modern folk horror but it’s a movie which feels challenged by its own storytelling, it wants to be a dark nightmare but it’s a slightly confusing one at best.

Rating: 4/10

 

Related: The Witch (2015), Hagasuzza (2017), Sauna (2008), The Ritual (2017), Wolfhound (2006)
Lists: Folk Horror, A Witch in the Woods
Trailer

 

Onus (2020)

Director: Alex Secker
Starring: Daniella Faircloth, Erin Leighton, Tony Manders .UK. 1h 28m

A new contender to join the ranks of British Folklore Horror, and while it’s clear to see the distinctive influences floating around in Alex Seckers detailed dark thriller, I personally just felt that it didn’t ignite in a way that it should have but I do have respect for the bold attempt to scare audiences with those folk figures and rituals we don’t want to believe are real so we can sleep safe at night, however I feel that this is a first draft of something that could have been massively great.

With the limited budget this well crafted movie works it’s curious magic within one large country home with only a handful of cast. Alex manages to set up a miniature Wicker Man (1973) highlighting a history of pagan worship and ritual all hidden under the cloak of smug rich faces. Continue reading Onus (2020)

Webcast (2018)

Director: Paul McGhie
Starring: Samantha Redford, Joseph Tremain, Nicola Wright .UK. 1h 35m

It’s way too easy to summarise this as a found footage version of the Wicker man meets Kill List however I feel that it would be going the classics a bit of an injustice.

Webcast is a mockumentary/found footage film made by a couple of young lovebird students when they realise that some kind of cult is operating next door, and make all the wrong decisions in trying to uncover a deadly plot. Continue reading Webcast (2018)

The Wicker Man (1973)

Director: Robin Hardy
Based on: The Ritual by David Pinner
Starring: Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Ingrid Pitt, Diane Cilento .UK. 1h 27m

In the past decade Horror Folklore as a genre has raised its curious demonic fiery head. This new dawning, pioneered by new cult directors such as Ben Wheatley, Ari Aster, Gavin Liam and Roger Eggers to name a few haven’t been able to make a movie without it being likened to the pioneering game changer, Robin Hardy’s slow-burning chiller The Wicker Man.

Looking back at it’s small budget and menial takings at the cinema, numerous cuts and actors paying for critics seats, it’s rise to cult status wasn’t a simple one but what it achieved was truly unique, not even it’s remake was able to mimic it’s true sense of dread and horror. Continue reading The Wicker Man (1973)

The Necromancer (2018)

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.

Continue reading The Necromancer (2018)

In the Tall Grass (2019)

Director: Vincenzo Natali. Writer: Stephen King
Starring.Laysla De Oliveria, Avery Whitted, Patrick Wilson, Will Buie Jr. Harrison Gilbertson, Tiffany Helm, Rachael Wilson. Canada. 1h 41m.

The penny dropped after the first hour of watching vivid scenes of tall grass swaying and screaming at lost desperate people in this slightly weary thriller, my eureka moment came when I realised I had seen this set up before, in a well known and once brilliant sci fi movie, The Cube (1997) and fuck me sideways, it’s the same director!?! I might have finally learnt my lesson in doing the technical research before settling into a movie. In a nutshell, that’s it, a folk version of The Cube in a field, and despite it’s best efforts, it’s not much more. The film eludes to lots of probabilities to the origins of its mystery but fails to really give solid answers and ends up as a messy mix of dead ends. Continue reading In the Tall Grass (2019)

Kill List (2011)

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Director : Ben Wheatley:
Starring : Neil Maskell, MyAnna Buring, Michael Smiliey, Struan Rodger UK. 1h 35m.

Synopsis: Nearly a year after a botched job, a hit man takes a new assignment with the promise of a big payoff for three killings, What starts off as an easy task soon unravels, sending the killer into the heart of darkness.

Nearly a year after a disastrous job; a hitman Jay (Maskel) and his trusty sidekick Gal (Smilie) take on a new assignment with the promise of a big payoff for a mere three killings. What begins as an effortless task soon unravels; sending the killers on a wild psychological roller coaster.

Kill List opens as a fairly mundane drama set around a dysfunctional and violent couple and a quiet often ignored son. Gradually the plot descends into bloody gore, shrewd psychological disturbances, occult and a healthy lashing of “thrill  kill”.

It encapsulates the downward spiral of a semi retired hitman, We being to feel sympathy for Jay, his mission in Kiev and now potters around his house imagining himself as having a bad back, pissing off his spouse Shel (Burning) and the two constantly switch between love and hateful outbursts over Jay’s inactivity and the families poor financial situation. The pace starts to sharpen once Jay finds a new contract and a mysterious character known simply as The Client (Rogers) offers the duo a 3 person kill list during an unsettling meeting in a hotel.

At this point the pair start to drift apart as Jay starts to rage more and loses control and his grip on reality and the walls close in.

The screenplay is very characteristic of Wheatly/Jump’s style of film like Sightseers (2012) and Down Terrace (2009). Filmed in a similar manner of a fly on the wall documentary, the cinematography follows suit with shaky cam and close ups, zooming in on the graphic violent scenes, all of this is backed up with raw and unprepared script sporadic soundtrack, sometimes holding up and allowing space for deep personal scenes.

The acting is brilliant, it looks very realistic which is the entire angle of this movie, its main point of driving home the message that this could happen to anyone is to see it happening to people you can easily identify with. It feels as if Wheatley is bringing this story to the viewer. trying to force them to digest everything for themselves. This identification with the main cast helps pull you into the movie. Suddenly Jay isn’t James Bond, he’s doing what you would in that situation, but when he starts going off the rails does this mean you could also. For an example when Jay and Gal find some disturbing videos, Gal is very passive and Jay goes off all half cocked, which is what most people would do in his place but would they really press it as hard as him?

Wheatly and Jump work together so well, constantly they are producing characters that could live on your street but who have this dark and sinister backgrounds. The quiet family down the street are revealed as trained killers and yet blend seamlessly, everyone has a hidden face, everyone is hiding a secret.

With its raw and uncompromising dialogue, Kill List hits hard, it’s raw with a gloomy undercurrent, you have no where to hide. Combining the difficult family drama such as Once Were Warriors (1994) with a brutal hitman action movie and topping it off with constantly surreal occult references the melting pot is set to dish up a curious and unique movie.


09

Rating : 9/10

Post Discussion

R: Sightseers (2012), A Field in England (2013) Devil Rides Out (1968) Borderlands/Final Prayer (2013), Rosemarys Baby (1968)
Q: Gal “I fucking hate dirty soap”
BS: Some of the most realistic blood is scene in the hotel scene when Jay gets his hand cut. The brutal killing of he Librarian is very gruesome ans violent!
OST: Nb. Sharksong used in tunnel chase.
List: Selected Occult Movies, Hitmen Movies, Modern British Thrillers
Spotlight: Ben Wheatley, Michael Smiliey, Neil Maskell