dir. Edoardo Vitaletti.
In 1800s New York, Mary (Stefanie Scott) – a young girl blindfolded and bloody – tells the tale of the circumstances surrounding the death of her family’s matriarch and the subsequent events that unfolded. As the story flashes back we see Mary’s staunchly religious family chastise and punish her increasingly amorous relationship with household maid Eleanor (Isabelle Fuhrman), and as the consequences for their passion intensifies the arrival of a mysterious stranger brings about even more tension, Mary beginning to realise there may be darker forces at work.
It’s difficult not to draw comparisons between director Vitaletti’s debut and Robert Egger’s The Witch (2015): both are historically set period dramas containing overly zealous, religious family members and young females who are questioning their place within the familial unit. The two also feature slightly ambiguous supernatural elements which leave the viewers wondering whether there are occult forces furthering the plot, or if it’s just the human psyche under intense anxiety and pressure when forced to atone for things that are outside of their control, such as the disappearance of children in The Witch or the person one falls in love with here.
A dark and gothic tale that exhibits the consequences of living under oppression, Scott (Insidious 3) and Fuhrman (Orphan) play the downtrodden, star-crossed lovers perfectly, mistreated and abused yet strong, with a glimmer of hope for escape. Rory Culkin is – as ever – enigmatic, playing “The Intruder” as a welcome and eerie addition.
Unfortunately the film has one big downfall in the accents, joining legions of other titles that continue to push for actors to do poorly conceived “begosh begorrah” Irish impersonations. The Irishness of the family here is not an integral story element, and as such the accents feel like a strange, slightly annoying and borderline offensive direction, taking away from what would otherwise have been an unearthly folk horror with a satisfying creep factor.