2014 Running time: 89 Certificate: 15 Rating: 4

Synopsis

A three-man team of Vatican investigators - veteran myth-debunker Deacon (Gordon Kennedy), pious priest Mark (Aidan McCardle) and mouthy geek (Robin Hill) - are sent to a remote Devon church to probe reports of paranormal activity during a Christening. They suspect that the strange occurrences are the work of the young priest... but then they start discovering forces far darker. Writer-director Elliott Goldner has crafted a sublime chiller from a modest budget helped in no small measure by superlative performances and a richly-worked script. Genuinely disturbing.

Director

  • Elliot Goldner

Cast

  • Gordon Kennedy

  • Robin Hill

  • Aidan McArdle

  • Sarah Annis

  • Lee Arnold

  • Patrick Godfrey

Review

It's been fifteen years since The Blair Witch Project introduced the concept of the "found footage" thriller and the horror industry hasn't looked back since.

Well, it has looked back...but only to see what diabolic havoc is being wreaked on washed-out Steadicam footage and crackly Dolby-assisted sound recordings.

Writer-director Elliot Goldner doesn't bring anything new to a genre which ranges from Paranormal Activity to Cloverfield but he gets everything so right that it doesn't matter.

We first meet "The Congregation" - a Vatican-sponsored investigation team - when their techy expert Gray (Hill) is installed in a Devon cottage assembling an arsenal of HD camcorders, head-mounted cameras and electronic gauges. So fine, so familiar.

He's joined by gruff paranormal investigator Deacon (Kennedy), a troubled veteran of a disturbing probe-gone-wrong in Brazil which has left him with a liking for more than just communion wine.

They couldn't be more different but Goldner's wryly detailed script convincingly brings them together - the lippy Gray naturally curious about what the taciturn Deacon has been through.

With the arrival of their final team member - prickly miracle debunking priest Father Mark (McArdle) - they start work investigating alleged phenomena at a hilltop church newly-re-opened by young, go-ahead preacher Father Crellick (Neal).

He shows them a recording made during a Christening which appears to show candlesticks toppling off the altar, strange banging noises echoing aorund the church and the wail of a terrified infant.

Goldner carefully builds up the tension by creepy increment, neatly switching from Gray's geezer spiel to an all-pervading sense of dread to inextricably draw the viewer in.

There's no clumsy exposition - the sinister course of events is seamlessly worked into the narrative with a wit and genuine feel for language, most notably in the observations of Gray, an affable sceptic who's not above the odd De Vince Code quip.

There's the best elements of both The Wicker Man (unpleasant locals) and The Blair Witch Project (nail-shredding climax) yet the company this corker keeps is actually the superlative Brit black comedies Down Terrace (which starred Hill) and Kill List.

It's footage you really wouldn't want to find.

Tim Evans

You may also like

Get Sky Upgrade