My notes on the FrightFest selection.
‘Here’s a tip for you, man to man. Real love … hurts like hell!’
This slow-burning, slightly predictable melodrama is an essay in the life-is-horrid-down-on-the-farm school of British psycho-drama – for all the four-by-fours and dodgy phone reception, it could as easily be Cold Comfort Farm.
In a fragmentary prologue, something violent happens – Cassie (big-lipped Kierson Wareing) kills her husband (Christopher Brand) because he’s been abusing their young teenage daughter Hannah (Skye Lourie). Eight months later, Cassie is embattled – Hannah is dourly restless, her little sister Gemma (Georgia Groome) is an incipient religious loon, elderly farmhand Cooper (David Bradley) utters glum pronouncements and a land-owning neighbour (Terry Stone) wants the farm and/or Cassie and will perpetrate a campaign of gate-locking and (perhaps) calf-hanging to persuade her, which the local cop isn’t interested in investigating. Along comes Aidan (Vincent Regan), a macho man who claims to have knows the dead husband ‘on the rigs’ and helps with the difficult delivery of a calf – he stays on, living in the barn, taken by Gemma to be an angel (perhaps the avenging kind) and he brutally sorts out the neighbours then goes into psycho-meance handyman mode, having picked up an obsession with the family from the husband’s too-revelatory chat. Naturally, Aidan becomes a tyrant as he tries to put the perfect family together, with resistance from all concerned, and it climaxes in the rain with the baddie stalking and menacing the family, who do finally agree on something and co-operate to give him a send-off which involves electrocution, a slurry pit and a gas explosion.
It’s reasonably well acted within the strict limits of the basic script by James Dormer (of the much more interesting Outcast), especially by Wareing (who has been working steadily in things like Luther, The Shadow Line and Fish Tank) and Regan, but it’s an old, old story that scrambles Straw Dogs, The War Zone and The Archers. Directed by Susan Jacobson.
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