Cinema/TV, Film Notes

Frightfest review – The Piper

Frightfest review – The Piper

Writer-director Anthony Waller – working from a script by Duncan Kennedy (Deep Blue Sea) – has a thing about folk getting into trouble abroad.  His breakthrough, Mute Witness (1995), was set (unusually for the time) in Russia, and his follow-up was the underwhelming An American Werewolf in Paris.  Here, Liz Haines (Elizabeth Hurley) and her sulky daughter Amy (Mia Jenkins), move to Hamelin, Germany, where Liz is taking up a teaching position vacated by the insanity of the previous holder.  Of course, the town has its famous local story – though the piper (Arben Bajraktaraj) who haunts this film has transformed into a horror film fiend with the very particular schtick of persecuting the children of grown-ups who’ve done bad things and ducked the consequences.  Liz has a backstory involving a hit and run – and sees twin ghost girls occasionally – but Mia is the focus of the film, wooed by a handsome gypsy horseman (Jack Stewart), advised by his mystic Auntie Aisshe (Tara Fitzgerald), ostracised at school, bothered by the Piper, bleeding from her fingertips, bitten by CGI bugs and given to discovering secret passages or being alarmed by rats.  Shot in Riga, Latvia, The Piper has nice misty locations and keeps coming up with interesting, unusual images – the piper also has an appropriate earworm theme (the score is credited to Waller and Wilbert Hirsch) – but its storyline is ramshackle, with long-telegraphed surprises and a great many sequences in which people get in trouble mostly by being stupid.



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