This small-scale British horror-thriller is an exercise in the held-in-captivity genre, typified by Misery but with roots as deep as Fanatic or The Strange Vengeance of Rosalie. Like most of this type of story, it’s a slow-burner as the protagonist realises just how deep in trouble he is as he becomes more frustrated with his seemingly reasonable, actually demented host and senses the lengths to which his captor will go to keep him around – also uncovering more and more gruesome horrors on the premises.
Morris (Tony Curran), a single Dad, lives on an isolated farm with his home-schooled, naïve but not stupid daughter Lauren (Diana Vickers) and arbitrarily decides to have Christmas in September,complete with fairy lights, a big meal (of ‘pork’) and presents. Morris brings home Jake (Rupert Hill), a lawyer who has crashed his car in the woods, and treats him as a guest. When Jake wakes up, he wants to leave – he says he has an important meeting to go to, but actually he wants to propose to his girlfriend (Sophie Lovell Anderson) – but Morris insists he stay for Christmas. All the usual omens are noted – no mobile phone signal, no landline, no urgency about driving into town – but Jake does strike up a friendship with Lauren. When he tries to walk off, he steps into a man-trap and is confined with a Misery-type leg injury that kicks up the horrors a bit as we see just how delusional Morris is, get an idea of his side-business selling stolen cars, and come to wonder just what happened to Lauren’s mother. The claustrophobic three-way occasionally lets up as a local cop (Peter Woodward) and Jake’s girlfriend start digging away at the mystery disappearance, but the film mostly sticks to the farm, and delivers not-unexpected grand guignol revelations about the pork dinners and what’s kept in a basement under Morris’s special shed.
Curran, an interesting Scots character actor — with credits as varied as Red Road, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (as the Invisible Man) and Doctor Who (as Van Gogh) – gets to do a softly evil Yorkshire accent and plays the mad farmer as quietly wrong rather than all-out insane, even working up some sympathy for him as he clashes with his not-very-likeable forced guest, who starts using his lawyer skills to drive a wedge between father and daughter. The ending gets very gory, but then a coda delivers 1970s-style cynicism as a new generation of insanity replaces the just-splattered old one. Written and directed by Mark Murphy (The Crypt).