elderly British upper crust ladies and gents, can be either reassuring or
wickedly scary, depending on the context. Perhaps they are merely products of
their idyllic or macabre country manors. Regardless, the tradition of British
gothic horror continues rather nicely in Simon Frith’s Eva’s Legacy (trailer
here) and Joss Maines’ The Wager (trailer
both screen as part of short film blocks at the 2016 Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema.
Eva’s Legacy will be a human interest
story. At least that is what the reporter who has come to interview her thinks.
The heirless titular Eva has announced she is bequeathing her grand family home
to a children’s charity. It seems appropriate, since the estate once sheltered
several children from the chaos of the London blitzes. Eva vividly remembers
one little boy in particular . . .
has assembled a lovely setting and classy British cast for what feels like a
proof of concept short. Frankly, it seems like Legacy is just getting started when it ends (but it is far worse
when a film feels like it has been over long before its credits roll). Frith
controls the build-up nicely, maintaining a vibe not unlike the
under-appreciated Dominic West film, The Awakening. Sue Morley is subtly mysterious as Eva and Elizabeth Twells
makes an effectively contemporary gothic heroine. It would be nice to see this
contrast, Maines’ The Wager is more
self-contained, but it is even more satisfying for genre fans. It sort of plays
like the Hammer Horror version of the favorite Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode, The Man from the South. After fleecing two associates in a not-so
friendly game of cards, Peter, their wealthy host, offers the financially
desperate younger man a fateful bargain. If he can spend a night in a
reportedly haunted room of the old dark house, he will forgive all his debt and
throw in all the takings from their game. Needless to say, it will be easier
said than done.
atmosphere of The Wager is wonderfully
Hammer-esque and the house’s backstory is appropriately sinister (eerily
evoking Abelard and Heloise). As Peter and the other old-timer Harry, Ian Hogg
and Stephan Chase look they could have been wizards in the Harry Potter franchise or apprentices of Peter Cushing and Sir
Christopher Lee, which is a very good thing.
Legacy and The Wager are
impressively produced, suitably British supernatural horror films. They
represent a lot of talent contributed by their respective casts and crews, so
they are easy to recommend for genre fans. The two shorts would screen well
together, but they are in separate programs at this year’s IIFC, with the
former screening this Wednesday (1/6) and Saturday (1/9) and the latter
screening Friday (1/8) and Sunday (1/10).
Labels: British Cinema, Horror Movies, IIFC '16, Short Films