My notes on Crow
A bosky folk horror film – unusually, based on a stage play (Stone the Crows by Tim Rhys) – which tackles old themes in ancient woodland as crass Richard Tucker (Nick Moran), a self-made cockney developer who believes himself ‘the new aristocracy’, sets out to build a mansion on a stretch of (presumably Welsh) woodland he’s bought from an bankrupt landowner. Though his wife Alicia (Elen Rhys) is sceptical about the project, Tucker commits to it – playing hardball with a new age tribe of ‘squatters’ led by bolshy Harley (Andrew Howard) who have been living in the farmhouse but then having to cope with supernatural forces channelled by the land’s near-feral young protector John Crow (Tom Rhys Harries).
The not-too-deep or dark woods are augmented by CGI spirits and tendrils, more effective whem glimpsed than actually in action – while Terence Stamp, looking like a holdover from Barbarella in black leather and feathers, lurks in Crow’s imagination passing on arcane wisdom. It gets into more conventional horror movie territory as Tucker’s workmen are assaulted by thorns and spirits, and climaxes with the chainsaw-wielding tycoon facing against a boy with only a sharpened billhook and the outcome a foregone conclusion. The stage origins show in a few too many on-the-nose speeches during arguments between Tucker and Alicia, but it gets out into the woods for eerier sequences – with some striking visions of Crow in a giant wicker birdcage.
This falls a bit between being a mystic/social melodrama and a full-on horror film, but the performances are good and the finale is satisfying. With Danny Webb in flashbacks as Crow’s Dad, a martyr of the traveller movement killed by ‘pigs’ and Emily Bevan helpfully looking up historical background on her laptop to provide exposition. Co-written – with Rhys and Moran – by director Wyndham Price. Shot in South Wales, with plenty of Welsh accents among the squatters and Tucker’s workmen (plus chat about Welsh football) – but without stress on any national conflict between the English invader and Welsh locals.