This low-budget work by British director Ben Charles Edwards is a bit all over the place, despite its restricted use of locations. It revolves around an unhappy American family in an isolated house where things go bump in the night, leaving youngest child Michael (Keaton Tetlow, very impressive) extremely worried about what’s under his bed. Unfortunately, dad Richard (Nicholas Tucci) is too busy going off on business trips to help, and Michael’s big sister Donna (Page Ruth) has her own things going on, including getting drunk and hating on frosty Coral (Camilla Rutherford), formerly the live-in nanny but now pregnant with Richard’s child and about to become Michael and Donna’s stepmother.

Coral certainly doesn’t make it easy for the kids to bond with her, given her propensity to use a creepy, rigid white plastic face mask that appears to have some cosmetic function. Instead it makes her look as if she’s channelling Edith Scob from Georges Franju’s classic body horror pic from 1960, Eyes Without a Face. The cast is rounded out by a older woman next door with candyfloss hair (Colleen Heidemann) and the kids’ mentally disturbed mother Linda (Sandra Andreis).

The editing is intentionally choppy and unsettling, and switches back and forth between the various atomised characters, who mostly seem to be alone or only briefly have intimate conversations with one another; this is either to reflect their alienation or because of Covid-19 protocols, or maybe both. The vagueness around the supernatural elements is intriguing but Edwards can’t quite kick the whole thing up a notch to make the material really thematically rich, and relies too much on sonically driven jump scares. In the end, it doesn’t quite qualify for the label of elevated horror – the fancy arthouse kind of scary movie, like Ari Aster’s Midsommar or Jordan Peele’s Get Out. But clearly it’s trying; it’s a few steps up the stairs if not fully elevated.

Father of Flies is available on 11 April on digital platforms.



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