H.P. Lovecraft’s fishier stories are enjoying something of a vogue at the moment. This is based on a story by Paul Kane (‘Men of the Cloth’) ‘and the works of H.P. Lovecraft’ but draws on much the same seaside terror as the recent The Beach House and The Deep Ones, with Lovecraft’s ‘The Shadow Over Innsmouth’ (source for Stuart Gordon’s film Dagon) the specific inspiration. It’s also an entry in the ‘insular community with strange rites’ sub-genre of The Wicker Man and Midsommar and perhaps even ties in with recent Scandi-noir-type TV shows where outsiders or returnees are swept up in mysteries in remote, picturesque, inhospitable locations.
Isaac Pickman (Ludovic Hughes) and his pregnant wife Emma (Sophie Stevens) arrive on a starkly beautiful Norwegian island – the locals are horribly, violently unwelcoming until Isaac admits he was born here and has inherited his father’s house, whereupon a pub full of xenophobic bullies become creepily friendly. No sooner have the couple settled into the house, which Emma assumes they’ll be able to sell, than they are visited by local cop Renate (Barbara Crampton, doing a creditable accent) who starts asking questions about Isaac’s father’s murder – pointing out the bloodstains on the carpet – though this is the first he’s heard of it.
What was once the stuff of paranoid fantasies is now almost comfortingly familiar – robed groups chanting by night, escalating tensions within the marriage as the Pickmans take different positions on the island, friendly-folksy-sinister people offering help that really isn’t helpful, and a general assumption (nudged by the title) that this is all going to end up with something dreadful happening to someone … most probably the heroine’s unborn baby. Directed and written by Andy Collier and Toor Mian, it’s a gripping, if minor entry in a currently overcrowded field.
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