Dir: Matthew Butler Hart | Fantasy Horror | Conleth Hill, Alex Hassell, Tori Butler Hart, Fisayo Akinade, Alix Wilton Regan, Emma King, Graham Butler | 96′ | UK
Matthew Butler Hart crafts a beautiful and believable horror fantasy set in nineteenth century Scotland and exploring a mythological folk tale of sirens and succubi. Although lacking the weighty social themes of Robert Eggers’ The Witch this is an impressive period piece that delivers an ominous sense of dread throughout its well-paced and compact running time.
On a remote island off the Scottish coast three sailors find themselves washed ashore after a mysterious shipwreck. They soon meet the four remaining islanders who are living with a terrible secret history that has haunted their dwindling community. Clues to the mystery are telegraphed by eerie sound effects and subtle visual cues, and a satisfying conclusion is delivered in the film’s final reveal.
Tori Hart’s imaginative script conflates Greek mythology with British folkloric tales such as The Wicker Man and nautical literary fare such as James Fenimore Cooper’s The Pilot (1824) to develop its own distinct narrative based on a community struggling to survive its unsettling past. This is a classically-styled quality British production with convincing performances from Alex Hassell (Suburbicon) as Captain Oliver Gosling, and Tori Butler Hart who plays the enigmatic female lead Lanthe, one of the island’s four remaining residents who holds the key to the weird goings on, along with her father Douglas (Games of Thrones’ Conleth Hill). Peter Wellington makes atmospheric use of the misty, wind-swept seascapes of Scotland and Suffolk to create an affective fantasy horror story. MT
ON RELEASE FROM FRIDAY, 3 May 2019 NATIONWIDE