A completely invasive score and sound design make up for the slowest of burns in this British horror based on a depression-era short story.
A mysterious traveler uses Aboriginal magic to invade the quiet country home of a Foley artist/musician and his wife. Let’s dig into 1978’s “The Shout”, directed by Jerzy Skolimowski!
As I See It
It almost seemed as if it was going to be an anthology as Tim Curry and Crossley sat in a little equipment shack on a cricket field.
Crossley’s dialogue was annoyingly low (which made sense eventually).
We’re treated to some handsome young Tim Curry for a short while before we jump into the story being told, which features John Hurt and Susannah York as a couple invaded by Crossley and his ancient aboriginal magic. Hurt (Anthony) is an experimental musician who toys with Foley and Crossley tells him of a shouting technique that he learned from Aborigines that will kill anyone who hears it.
Of course, this is too intriguing for Anthony to pass up and he wants to hear it.
In the hills of Devon, Crossley delivers this shout, and it is everything it was built up to be. Brilliant sound design highlights the film.
It is a slow, somewhat uneventful, very artsy, confusing picture. But it was so unsettling thanks to the aural onslaught that I could not help but love it.
Holy shit is this a cast!
The late, great John Hurt, is a legend. As far as genre goes, he starred alongside Sir Anthony Hopkins in David Lynch’s Elephant Man. You may recall a newborn Xenomorph bursting from his chest in Alien as well.
This was Jim Broadbent’s first film. Though he had a small part, he would endear himself to a generation as Professor Slughorn in the Harry Potter films.
Tim Curry needs no introduction. Is there a more versatile actor in the past fifty years? I would say no.
Whether he’s a terrifying clown (Pennywise in the original IT), the devil himself (The Darkness in Legend), a sweet transvestite (The Rocky Horror Picture Show), the butler (Clue), or a hoity-toity Brit in this here film— in everything you have ever seen him in, he exudes brilliance.
Even the films Curry didn’t act in have legends of his acting prowess wrapped around them. He reportedly auditioned for the role that eventually went to Christopher Lloyd in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? He did not get the role because he was “too terrifying”. If you’ve seen that film and remember the ending, Christopher Lloyd IS terrifying in it.
Can you imagine the level Curry must have risen to that it made the producers quiver in their boots enough to have to pass on such talent?
Of Gratuitous Nature
There is nudity and sexuality, but it is done completely within the scope of art.
In my former life, I was a sound engineer. I spent years of my life on the road, in different cities, different venues, and different soundscapes. The background of our main character is intriguing to me in that regard as well as the filmmaking angle (the work of a foley artist is an underappreciated, overlooked art form that adds a lot to a film without recognition).
Ripe for a Remake
I really want to read the novel to catch the nuance of the story. Something with a lean on the sound design would be necessary, just as the original chose to do.
No progeny to report.
Where to Watch
There is a UK Blu-Ray available, though I can’t find much information on its release beyond the studio being called “Network”. When in doubt, search YT for a quality stream of a film.