(director/writer: Sean Ellis; cinematographer: Sean Ellis; editors: Yorgos Mavropsaridis/Richard Mettler; music:Robin Foster; cast: Boyd Holbrook (John McBride), Kelly Reilly (Isabelle Laurent), Max Mackintosh (Edward), Tommy Rodger (Timmy), Alistair Petrie (Seamus Laurent), Roxanne Duran (Anais), Jicey Carina (Gypsy blacksmith leader), Simon Kunz (Mr. Griffin), Stewart Bowman (Saul), Nigel Betts (Alfred Moliere), Amelia Crouch (Charlotte), Áine Rose Daly (Anne Marie); Runtime: 111; MPAA Rating: R; producers; Sean Ellis, Mickey Liddell, Pete Shilaimon: LD Entertainment; 2021-Englsh and Romanian)
“Despite its tiny budget, the film has a rich look and a cheeky werewolf feel to it.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Director-writer Sean Ellis(“Anthropoid”) revives the werewolf horror story with old and new takes on it, none too refreshing or lucid. It played film festivals in 2021 under the title Eight For Silver. Despite its tiny budget, the film has a rich look and a cheeky werewolf feel to it. It’s main bumble is that its framing device for the story is too awkward and the film stumbles at times when it should just flow and istead becomes stagnant, and it’s confusing as to who is French and who English.
It opens with the prologue of French soldiers massacred by the Germans in 1917, on a World War I battlefield in Somme, where a wounded French soldier named Edward is in the hospital and though not surviving has a silver bullet and not a German one removed.
Then in a flashback that takes up most of the movie, it gets set to 35 years earlier, in 1880, in the French countryside where we witness a band of Romani, led by an old woman (Jicey Carina), set up camp near a British settlement. The alarmed wealthy aristocrat Seamus Laurent (Alistair Petrie) hires a bunch of sadistic thugs to massacre them. Since the Romani have an equally impressive legitimate legal claim to the land as Seamus’ elitist group, the elitists decide it would make things easier just to eliminate them, edit the records and bury their crime in the field where the gypsies had their camp.
The dastardly act had consequences–soon the children of the killers started to dream about an eerie scarecrow in that field and an occult item buried under it. Seamus’ children, Charlotte (Amelia Crouch) and Edward (Max Mackintosh), visit the awful site, and soon Edward vanishes.
To investigate these strange events, the celebrated pathologist John McBride (Boyd Holbrook) is summoned. Learning about the gypsies in the area, John makes plans on how to fight them and keeps it to himself.
John remains mysterious as he withholds what he’s thinking even from Seamus and his obedient wife, Isabelle (Kelly Reilly), and dodges their questions if there’s any danger to be concerned about. John seems to be savvy about how to deal with the wealthy and political leaders who might act thinking only of themselves when aware that things are of out of their control.
What unfolds are a number of vicious werewolf attacks, as a result of the curse on the usurpers. Monsters (not werewolves are reported roaming in the woods) appear, giving the werewolf tale a new twist. The mystery is not cleared up until John looks within and sees how his past is connected with this tale.
The blood-curdling visuals by Ellis, doubling as the cinematographer, are as good as they come for this genre and give the film a leg up on many other werewolf films. Also, the actors are properly costumed and seem to be intent on keeping things real and frightening during the chaos that’s to follow during the attacks. But the flow of the story is stopped every time there’s another character venturing out at night to be scared out of their wits and devoured just like the last one was (watching Seamus’s maid ( Roxanne Duran) get it, was enough). Too many scares in a scare film might not be a good idea, as it might lower the value of the original jump-scare.
But the film is suspenseful and werewolf friendly, and its horror film atmosphere is striking.
REVIEWED ON 2/28/2022 GRADE: B–