Director.: Gareth Bryn
Cast: Mark Lewis Jones, Annes Elwy, Dyfan Dwyfor
97min | Drama | UK
Shaky performances and a poorly written script aren’t the only spooks lurking in Gareth Bryn’s promising feature debut, an atmospheric ghost thriller that takes place a haunted cottage in the remote Welsh countryside and home to Stanley (Mark Lewis Jones). During a storm, Stanley comes to the rescue a young couple (Sara/Elwy) trapped in their car and gives them board and lodging while they recover. Sara (Elwy) is grateful and strangely drawn to the reclusive Stanley but her boyfriend Iwan (Dwyfor) is less than pleased by Stanley’s unselfish heroism toward his partner and reacts with hostile jealousy bordering on paranoia, calling his a ‘retard’. It’s unclear where these two came from and they talk in riddles about their past. But Stanley too is hiding something, and Sara is eager to probe his secrets. Iwan’s state of mind gradually deteriorates and in an ugly scene he asks Sara to undress and have sex with Stanley, before storming out.
There are shades of early Polanski in The Passing (YR YMADAWIAD), a Cymraeg language film, that sidesteps innovation relying too heavily on horror tropes alone to create a gripping story. The storyline is too reductive to hold the audience’s attention for its running time. Although Jones’ naive hermit feels believable, the couple’s ‘special’ relationship doesn’t feel authentic: Elwy and Dwyfor somehow fail to grasp the highly ambivalent nature of their characters. DOP Richard Stoddard saves the film from a complete disaster: his images, in- and outdoors, are truly evocative, particularly strong in showing the dominant role of water as an emotional force, in its many forms. Overall, Bryn and writer Ed Talfan should have settled for a medium-length feature which would have played to the strength of their approach and reduced the gaping holes of the narrative. AS
ON GENERAL RELEASE FROM 8 April 2016