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The Crack Magazine



Director: Romola Garai

Stars: Alec Secăreanu, Carla Juri, Imelda Staunton

Actor Romala Garai’s debut directorial feature is an ambitious and technically accomplished but flawed horror picture. Tomas (Secăreanu from ‘God’s Own Country’) is a bored solider manning his post from an undisclosed, presumably East European, country. Scrambling in the dirt, he comes across a strange figurine. Then he wakes up, presumably some years later, older and bearded in London. After an arson attack at his flat, Tomas is offered free accommodation at a dilapidated squat from nun Sister Claire (Staunton) in return for doing odd jobs and maintenance. There he meets Magda (Juri), a young woman who is looking after her sick mother who dwells in the attic. Tomas is not able to see Magda’s mother but can hear her anguished cries and screams. A tentative relationship develops between Tomaz and Magda, but the ex-solider is haunted by distressing visions. Citing pictures such as ‘The Babadook’ and ‘Under the Shadow’ as inspiration, Garai boldly attempts to explore grim subject matter through horror tropes. The photography and excellent production and sound design effectively summon up the requisite sense of dread, and the film boast some genuinely surreal imagery, particularly at the conclusion, but the pacing is sluggish, the performances variable (Secăreanu seems to be struggling with his English dialogue) and the script often feels like it was devised by some random spooky lines generator.

David Willoughby

Follow David on @DWill_Crackfilm