Stars: Tom Hughes, Kate Dickie, Greta Scacchi
Writer-director Russell Owen’s feature debut, now out on DVD and Blu-ray, is a flawed but strikingly-mounted horror.
Tom Hughes is the portentously named Eric Black, a recent widower who, determined to be alone, takes a job as a shepherd on a remote island with only his collie dog Baxter and several hundred sheep for company. He is ferried over by Fisher, a severe-looking one-eyed woman with a pet stuffed crow, played with admirable conviction by Kate Dickie who manages to sell what could have been an unintentionally comic figure. As Fisher drops Black off at his austere cottage abode she tells him she can sense he is haunted by something. As the days wear on in Black’s self-imposed exile the lines between fantasy and reality begins to blur, with horrifying visions and an apparent visit from his gruff estranged mother (Scacchi).
The dank, stygian cottage interiors couple with an unnervingly creaky sound design imbue proceedings with a palpable sense of dread. Owen gets a little carried away with the spooky effects as the film draws to its conclusion, with the story getting a little lost in the relentless sensory bluster. Still, this is an effective calling card for the first-time director.
Shepherd is out on Blu-ray and available on VOD now.David Willoughby
Follow David on @DWill_Crackfilm