Shepherd

Shepherd (2021)

“Sometimes people just need solitude, you know,” says Eric Black (Tom Hughes) in writer/director Russell Owen’s Shepherd. Eric is explaining what has drawn him to become sole resident – apart from his dog Baxter and hundreds of sheep – on a remote coast island. His addressee, the gruff, half-sighted boat woman Fisher (Kate Dickie) who…

Mandrake

Mandrake (2022)

Mandrake had its world première at the Glasgow FrightFest 2022 Lynne Davison’s debut feature Mandrake begins in the dark, as a man frantically digs with his bare hands into the thick mud. An unearthly shrieking is heard, and his body goes limp – and is then dragged off into the trees by the chain around…

Viy

Viy (1967)

Viy first published by Little White Lies, as entry 123 in my Cinema Psychotronicum column The Russian author Nikolai Gogol published his novella Viy as part of a collection of short stories called Mirgorod which first came to print in 1835. It was a bawdy tale of the supernatural, with horny witches, errant holy men…

Reckoning

The Reckoning (2020)

The Reckoning first published by VODzilla.co The text with which Neil Marshall’s The Reckoning opens reveals that it is “England 1665, Year of the Great Plague”, adding that it is “the time of the witch finders.” Coming out in another year of plague in England, the film certainly re-echoes down the ages to the present…

Slapface

Slapface (2021)

Slapface has its international Première at FrightFest 2021 “You know why we have to do this?” says young adult Tom (Mike Manning) to his much younger, scared-looking brother Lucas (August Maturo) at the very beginning of Slapface. “Are you ready?” And then, the title of writer/director Jeremiah Kipp’s feature (adapted from his 2018 short of…

November

November (2017)

November first published by SciFiNow If, after The Witch (2014), a rural period film features backward values, supernatural motifs and goats, it comes with the expectation of a certain dark grimness – but you can leave your preconceptions at the barn door while watching Rainer Sarnet’s November, based on Andrus Kivirähk’s novel Rehepapp ehk November…

Window

The Witch In The Window (2018)

The Witch In The Window first published by SciFiNow “We’re the house doctors, you and me,” says Simon (Alex Draper) in The Witch in the Window. “Get in there where the bad parts are and make ’em good. Turn this into some place someone would want to live.” Simon is explaining to his 12-year-old son Finn…

Knock

Don’t Knock Twice (2016)

First published by Sight & Sound, April 2017 Review: “How did it happen?” asks an anguished, uncomprehending Jess (Katee Sackhof). “How does something like that happen?” In Don’t Knock Twice, the third feature of Welsh director Caradog W. James (after race comedy Little White Lies, 2006 and cyber SF The Machine, 2013), Jess’s questions refer…

Baba Yaga (1973)

After police disrupt an artists’ anti-colonialist ‘happening’, photographer Valentina (Isabelle de Funès) flees to a party where the subversive potential of comic strips and film is under discussion. And so Corrado Farina’s Baba Yaga, adapted from Guido Crepax’s comic strip Valentina, advertises a reflexive concern with art and politics long before its hallucinatory plot (involving witchcraft,…