The Lechlade Festival
The Lechlade Festival
Arts & Culture
Wiltshire feature film Follow The Crows gets first review from Darren Worrow

I couldn’t resist clicking on a tacky article link, you know the sort, “ten movie sequels which are better than their original.” Intrigued as I cite only one; Mad Max 2, arguably slipping in The Empire Strikes Back.

Surprised to see Evil Dead 2 appeared on the list, justified by its Roadrunner cartoonish antics and of course, Sam Rami’s higher budget. While the sequel is madcap, I disagree it’s the better of the two. The greater budget did nothing to uphold the uniqueness or slipshod appeal of its predecessor. The first Evil Dead, made on a shoestring, was nothing more than a guy running around a forest chased by a cameraman. No inkling to what evil entity the camera represented was ever suggested and the mystery, along with its low budget bravura rewards the film with an allure which the sequel never attained. Here then is proof that budget is not everything, a lesson for contemporary Hollywood. But this is not Hollywood, this is Wiltshire and comparable, our movie business is less than a pinprick. To make a local feature-length on a budget of 50K would create belly-laughs for Hollywood. But stand up Swindon director Alex Secker and producer Marcus Starr who, with limited resources, has manufactured on our very soil, “Follow the Crows;” a dystopian thriller which absolutely astounds, teetering with suspense and invigorating pensiveness. My comparison with Evil Dead stops here, at the irrelevance of big budgets, save perhaps “Follow the Crows” is too filmed in woodland. Follow the Crows is a dark, gritty and reality-driven thriller, set in barren landscapes which Wiltshire plentifully supplies. With an intelligent plot also written by Alex and Marcus, “Follow the Crows” offers us melancholic meanderings of lone characters, surviving on their wits, and their desperate and violent interactions suggest what man would be driven to in such circumstance. It’s clear, but its reasons not defined, that a breakdown in civilisation has occurred in Britain. Although we never get to see the cities the characters describe, they’re portrayed as merciless gang-land warzones and for them, motives for escaping. It intertwines three tortuous narratives into a shocking conclusion. Hope is but a fleeting vision obscured by subsistence, glimmering perchance in the reluctant meeting of a young couple struggling to deal with their own issues and willing only to allow the other existence. The development of a love story against all odds perches over the side of its murky portrayals. So we wander with these beaten and bruised souls, through the bleak landscape of woods and grassland, beholding their deepest fears and thoughts around campfires. Each one, protagonists included, suppresses clandestine skeletons. Follow the Crows also blows another worn stigma surrounding indie films clean out of the water; if tedious scenes don’t irritate, the amateurish acting will surely top it off. From the word go, the characters in Follow the Crows are effusively crafted for the ambience of the picture, and the acting talents are both passionate and polished. Follow The Crows banner The characters remain unnamed, leaving the audience as detached as the other participating characters.  Even the protagonist, played with flawlessness by Max Curtis, never utters his name or enquires of his female companion’s, fearing such connection will evoke emotion, which is precarious. Viewed as a commodity in this harsh setting, she’s a working-class adolescent lacking self-restraint.  Performed proficiently and credibly by Danielle Faircloth, she’s capable but doubtful of her survival, yearning for a trustworthy fellow. It’s only when the couple reach the sea and finally confess their past horrors, a spark of unity is created. For the others, no mercy is spared in evoking repulsion; with crazy twinkles in every eye they’re thrown together by reasons unravelled at the close. The calm but shrewd Trapper, personified with brilliance by Craig Fox, to the insane dribbling of his sidekick, performed by Matthew Mordak, adding a dash of black humour. The psychopath, played by Marcus, takes no prisoners; neither does the survivor stalking the girl, acted fearlessly by Tony Manders. And the fishermen duo, Ashley Robson and Alex Pitcher doubt each other’s loyalty. No one is reliable; dog eat dog. However, the line between goodie and baddie is blurred, every character holds secret reasoning for their nature; no archetypical movie storyline clichéd here. Trust, honour and principle play little part in the harsh landscape; the plot is brutal and insufferable, throttling the audience into anguish, the effect astounding and solicitous. I was held spellbound by its breathtakingly acute design, its open-ended story, secluded cinematography and unpretentious spirit. Perhaps aforementioned Mad Max is fair comparison, replacing whacky car chases with utter suspense, Britishness and thought-provoking dialogue. Keep abreast on social media or check back here for the film has no release date but Follow the Crows deserves your attention, backing and support as local filmography shouldn’t be this cool, surely? Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwcbfvdnocY Facebook: https://en-gb.facebook.com/followthecrowsmovie/

  • Wiltshire feature film Follow The Crows gets first review from Darren Worrow