It can be very tricky making a movie that has the slow burn approach to storytelling. You have to keep the audience interested while at the same have a great payoff in the end that has them satisfied as they walk out of the theater. I’m happy to say that minus a few missteps, “Brackenmore” achieves this and then some, combining some great atmosphere and dread as the film moves towards the final act.
We meet Kate (Sophie Hopkins) who is forced to return to her ancestral home in the South of Ireland after she finds out her uncle dies. To make matters worse, she never knew this uncle so she is travelling blind so to speak, not knowing what to expect. As it turns out, the trip helps her escape the everyday stress at home in London and she begins to enjoy the beautiful scenery that Ireland has to offer.
A local man named Tom (D.J. McGrath) helps her adjust to her new surroundings even more and re-discover her roots. However, Kate begins to notice that the residents of this village are something more than just nosy and over protective. Friendly turns to creepy, which in turns becomes dangerous and before she knows it, she is caught in the middle of cult rituals and a situation in which she cannot comprehend.
First of all, the movie looks fantastic. Using the background of Kerry, Ireland allows for a wonderful feeling of peace and calm, which of course the movie is anything but. The sweeping cinematography of the surroundings, including the ominous Uncle’s house, gives the movie a great contrast between beautiful and creepy. The direction is solid, moving the story along at a pace that goes hand in hand with the type of story they are trying to tell.
The movie hinges on Sophie Hopkins and how convincing she is portraying Kate as a confused woman lost in something she doesn’t understand. Hopkins does a great job, making Kate vulnerable yet with a hint of strength hiding behind those eyes. D.J. McGrath is convincing as the helpful local and which helps makes what happens believable and even shocking.
There are a couple of problems along the way, specifically with the journey to the big finish. While the pacing is good, there are parts of the movie that begin to drag a bit, leaving this viewer a little disinterested. Also the final scene, which is violent and fun, seems to happen too quickly and end even faster, leaving me feeling a bit cheated. While I did enjoy the outcome, it felt a little rushed and short.
However, my overall impression was that this was a solid film, made by people with a clear goal in mind. That in itself is a success as too many movies get completely lost and never really find their way back to the correct path. While ‘Brackenmore’ was neither overly bloody nor violent, it did have some good suspense and a nice creepy atmosphere that helped make it an interesting tale, right to the end.
Three and a half stars out of five
Brackenmore is playing at the Toronto International Spring of Horror and Fantasy Film Festival Saturday April 8th at 7:15 pm at the Carlton Cinemas
- Good, creepy atmosphere
- Looks great, both in scenery and dread
- Slow burn is ok but the build up is too long and the payoff too short