Eight for Silver, 2021.
Written and directed by Sean Ellis.
Starring Boyd Holbrook, Kelly Reilly, Alistair Petrie, Roxane Duran, and Áine Rose Daly.
In rural Nineteenth-century France, a mysterious, probably supernatural menace threatens a small village. John McBride, a pathologist, involves city to analyze the hazard – and exorcise a few of his personal demons within the course of.
Whereas the post-Twilight period ushered in an abundance of creative and left-field vampire movies, werewolf cinema hasn’t ever actually had the identical reactionary, watershed second. However Sean Ellis’ (Metro Manilla, Anthropoid) Eight for Silver does simply sufficient tinkering with the prototypical lycanthrope method to ship an entertaining time, regardless of its extreme size and oft-plodding tempo.
Ellis’ movie opens with a 35-years-later body narrative set throughout 1916’s Battle of the Somme, the place a soldier, Edward Laurent (Alun Raglan), succumbs to his warfare wounds simply as a silver bullet is pulled from his physique after which despatched again residence to his household in France. The remaining 98% of the story transpires again within the late Nineteenth century, the place Edward’s industriously violent land baron father Seamus (Alistair Petrie) slaughters a gypsy clan who’ve a authentic authorized declare on his household’s land.
However the gypsies don’t go quietly, considered one of their quantity unleashing a curse upon not solely the Laurent household – together with younger Edward (Max Waterproof coat), his sister Charlotte (Amelia Crouch), and their mom Isabelle (Kelly Reilly) – however your complete surrounding village.
This results in the locals struggling horrendous nightmares of the bloodbath, and after a collection of barely convoluted circumstances, a werewolf-adjacent an infection spreading all through the village, in the end inflicting Edward’s disappearance. And so, it falls to pathologist John McBride (Boyd Holbrook), who has a particularly private motivation for looking the creatures, to seek out Edward and save the village from annihilation.
Regardless of its chilly temper and sluggish tempo, Eight for Silver is just not a movie a lot keen on subtlety, its thematics regarding white colonialism and the sins of the daddy fairly actually spoken aloud by numerous characters all through.
However the place writer-director Ellis most intrigues is along with his resolution to deal with the werewolf(ish) infestation like a virus, fairly actually utilizing the phrase “pandemic” and making passing point out to each the closure of commerce routes and primitive types of lockdown. Although any allusions to COVID-19 are after all solely coincidental, it might nonetheless give audiences a perverse crackle – or. simply as probably. kill their sense of escapism solely.
By making his creatures not-quite-werewolves however reasonably their fleshy, pallid, hairless distant family, Ellis is ready to give them a very distinctive biology that also feels lovingly indebted to the basic physique horror movies of yore. As soon as somebody’s bitten by a creature, they start to manifest tendrils from their physique which quickly sufficient encase them inside a grotesque, monstrous chassis, from which they’ll technically be freed but won’t ever be the identical.
Ellis has confirmed himself a extremely succesful stylist in his prior works and that serves him nicely right here, impressively working as his personal cinematographer for the third movie in a row. His muted, earthy color palette helps the movie’s usually bleak, humourless tone, even colour-timed to inside an inch of monochrome in some scenes as it’s.
If a beautiful early locked-off, unbroken take of Seamus and his males sacking the gypsy settlement from a distance suggests two hours of grim restraint, that is no such movie. Ellis packs his jaunt with nauseatingly sensible gore, the place limbs are mercilessly hacked off, persons are ripped aside, and mangled physique elements are proven with a lingering gaze. Courtesy of some robust sensible results work, gorehounds ought to have a blast (everybody else, much less so).
It’s a disgrace, then, that Ellis’ visualisation of the creatures themselves is an efficient deal spottier, routinely using speedy chopping and awkward framing to maintain them disguised throughout assaults, presumably an try to downplay the comparatively wonky visible results obvious once we briefly do get to see them.
It’s additionally powerful to advocate for the movie’s 113-minute runtime; a sluggish supply of a straight-forward premise is all the time a danger the place style movies are involved, and should depart the audience periodically fidgety. It’s, at the very least, dripping in ambiance in even its extra glacial moments – notably an overextended however unexpectedly affecting finale.
It will definitely be higher for shedding 20 minutes – notably its extra of on-the-nose nightmare sequences – however abetting the sharp model is the efforts of a strong solid. As our monster-hunting hero McBride, Boyd Holbrook is entertainingly stoic, providing up a formidable English accent even when, like many of the different accents featured, it completely belies the movie’s French setting.
Alistair Petrie, ever a dab-hand at taking part in uptight, obstinate assholes, is in the meantime completely solid as Seamus, the closest factor the movie has to an out-and-out villain, although between Ellis’ nuanced characterisation and Petrie’s efficiency, he’s nowhere close to the cartoon he might so simply have been. Kelly Reilly is criminally underutilised right here as Seamus’ spouse Isabelle, however does her level-best to wring as a lot quiet anguish from the half as doable.
Moody however scattershot, this schlocky-classy retooling of the werewolf film doesn’t obtain its full bold potential, however between Ellis’ trendy eye and a sport solid, it does simply sufficient.
Flickering Fantasy Ranking – Movie: ★ ★ ★ / Film: ★ ★ ★
Shaun Munro – Comply with me on Twitter for extra movie rambling.
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