(director: John Fawcett; screenwriters: based on the novel Sheep by Simon Maginn/Maginn/;Stephen Massicotte,/ Paul Tamasy; cinematographer: Christian Sebalt; editor: Chris Gill; music: Edmund Butt; cast: Mari a Bello (Adelle), Sean Bean (James), Sophie Stuckey (Sarah), Maurice Roeves (Dafydid), Abigal Stone (Ebriff), Richard Elfyn (rowan); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Jeremy Bolt/Paul W.S. Anderson; Summit Entertainment; 2005-UK/Germany)
“Character development is the strong point for this mood piece.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Canadian director John Fawcett (“The Boys Club”/”Ginger Snaps”) intelligently helms this creepy supernatural ghost horror pic set at a remote Welsh coastal farmhouse with an abattoir (it was shot on the Isle of Man), but doesn’t show the ability to fully execute its horror film moments. It’s based on the novel Sheep by Simon Maginn, and is written by Maginn, Stephen Massicotte and Paul Tamasy. Its fault is that it moves too far away from following the book, which was supposedly a true chiller.
James (Sean Bean) is an Englishman living on a new sheep ranch in the remote countryside of Wales, that has an ominous steep cliff. He’s estranged from his American wife Adelle (Maria Bello), who visits him with their sensitive adolescent daughter Sarah (Sophie Stuckey) in the faint hope they can reconcile.
The tale is loaded with dream sequences, mom having nightmare visions of her daughter drowning, flashbacks, jump scares, a backstory of the farmer who lived here before who started his own cult religion based on Welsh mythology, and of a herd of sheep leaping to their death over the cliff. The religious part is fascinating, telling of how “the living and the dead cross paths when moving back and forth.”
The film gets better in its surprising conclusion, after tragedy takes the life of Sophie and mom, suffering from maternal guilt, believes her daughter is still alive in a parallel universe and could be rescued.
Character development is the strong point for this mood piece. Drawing on its mystical subtleties is what makes it interesting. When it becomes too blunt and offers us some ineffective ghostly visions (not really scary), it loses its mystical power.
REVIEWED ON 7/30/2020 GRADE: B-