Writer: Wyndham Price, Nick Moran (screenplay), Tim Rhys (stageplay)
Cast: Nick Moran, Tom Rhys Harries, Elen Rhys, Danny Webb, Andrew Howard, Terence Stamp
Cert: 15 (TBC)
Running time: 107mins
What’s the story: When a wealthy landowner looks to evict settlers from an area of land he has bought in the Welsh countryside, ancient gods and old powers are raised, bringing about a series of terrible events.
What’s the verdict: Adapted from Tim Rhys’ stage play, Crow is a polished low-budget exercise in modern social unrest and ancient beliefs.
Co-writer Nick Moran (whose 2005 film Puritan is an enjoyable, underseen slice of Brit horror) has fun as deliciously scummy villain Tucker, a self-made East London businessman low on green credentials, big on avarice.
His adversary is the teenage Crow (Harries), youngest member of a group of settlers forcibly evicted by the intractable city boy and his hired heavies.
But, as Tucker’s crew go about felling the local forest to clear space for his vanity home, Crow discovers he has powerful allies lying within the earth.
Risking unintentional giggles and New Age hippy-drippiness, Crow’s sombre visuals and irony-free intensity make for an unusual chiller, boldly blending The Wicker Man, The Evil Dead, ITV’s Robin of Sherwood and Texas Chain Saw Massacre style “countryside bites back” gore.
Danny Webb and Andrew Howard offer seasoned support as Crow’s father and mentor respectively, while Elen Rhys grabs attention as Tucker’s wife, sympathetic to the settlers’ plight.
Terence Stamp as the Great Crow, dressed like a feathered version of General Zod, adds a big name to the poster but sits uneasily in the actual film, and the 107 minute running time could have used judicious pruning as the pace flags before the climactic showdown.
Director Price is better at creating foreboding atmosphere from the striking landscape and abstract scenes of violence than employing low-rent CGI effects. But, at a time when cinemas are clogged with empty-headed spectacle and horror relies on fright wigs and drum crashes, it’s nice to see British fantasy cinema delivering smarts on modest money.
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