Writer: Tom de Ville
Cast: Maisie Williams, Jamie Davis, Archie Duffy, Joe Wolstenholme, Edward Wallace
Running time: 11mins
What’s the story: Young ornithophile Jay (Williams) attempts to nurse a crow, injured by local boys. Those boys then set their sights on Jay.
What’s the verdict: No matter how long it takes, some directors must get their story told. Writer/director Tom de Ville fits nicely into that bracket; his memorable, unusual Corvidae spent six years reaching the screen.
The bulk of principal shooting occurred back in December 2012, with editing, scoring, reshoots and FX work filling out the rest of the time (with crowdfunding assistance, presumably for the visual effects shots).
Happily, the result was worth both time and effort. Clocking in at a brisk 11-minutes, Corvidae is a captivating, near-wordless tale brimming with unease and wonder.
As with many great short films, plot takes second place to atmosphere. De Ville channels the wintry chilliness of the English countryside to striking effect, conjuring a sense of slippery reality out there in the woods. The three boys move from thugs to mask wearing would-be murderers of The Wicker Man or Kill List, while the climax is a true moment of rural phantasmagoria.
Williams (shooting back in 2012) is sympathetic and charismatic as the mysterious Jay. Brief flashbacks hint at past tragedy, but the girl’s sorrow, strength and resilience mainly emanate from Williams’ expressive performance. In a moment of Christian Bale-alike method acting, she also places live worms in her mouth while nursing the wounded crow.
De Ville has prior form in the fantasy genre, having penned scripts for Lucky Man and Hannibal and feature film The Quiet Ones. With its striking visuals and nicely judged mood, Corvidae promises a worthwhile feature debut sometime in the future.