Dir: Bernard Rose
Star: Jeroen Krabbé, Lisa Enos, Alastair Mackenzie, Teri Harrison

I went into this, entirely unaware of its content - I knew and like the director's work on Paperhouse, so wanted to see another piece from him. It's a Gothic horror tale, reminiscent of Poe, about a dead wife who's not actually de... No, wait, a group of psychos break into the director's house and slaughter his pregnant wife and his friends: it's a reworking of the Manson Family story. Hang on, it's now 20 years later, and we're watching a documentary, apparently made by real-life film-maker Nick Broomfield, along with a young couple (Enos + Mackenzie). The first is an aspiring actress, and becomes one of a group that the reclusive director (Krabbé) has gathered at his house for an audition: their character notes consist entirely of the word "PIG", which would likely have me making my excuses and calling a cab. But the place is heavily wired with cameras and the event is being streamed live on the Internet. So is this a film, a film-within-a-film, Satanic ritual, a figment of the director's apparent insanity or what?

Particularly, I think, due to my lack of any expectations - in which cause, I guess the paragraph above has probably just ruined it for you! Sorry... - the first three-quarters of this are genuinely effective, forcing the viewer to re-adjust their perspective and expectations on multiple occasions, while offering sly prods at everything from Internet voyeurism to Stanley Kubrick's huffy withdrawal of A Clockwork Orange. Krabbe is the glue that holds proceedings together: the rest of the cast is a bit of a mixed bag, with some of the other "actors" apparently unable to find the exit from their paper-bag. Though given their intended roles, that may not matter too much. Unfortunately, near the end, things drift from intriguingly twisted into sloppily excessive - the estate, which has previously had only two people outside the actors, is suddenly host to hundreds. The resulting Wicker Man-esque ritual doesn't fit with anything else, and is a jarring disconnect from what has gone before, which even a final twist cannot recover. It's a shame, since there's enough genuine inventiveness here to provoke thought, something sadly lacking in most genre entries.

[December 2014]

The Great British snuff film
See also... [Index] [Next] [Previous] [TC Home Page]