Dramatic and atmospheric, “The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw” is a highbrow horror exploring the unknown past of a town recluse and her sheltered daughter.
Canadian writer/director Thomas Robert Lee presents us with a dramatic and atmospheric highbrow horror exploring the unknown past of a town recluse and her sheltered daughter.
Similar in tone to The Village, writer/director Thomas Robert Lee’s sophomore film The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw maintains the air of a people out of time and place; a society that has chosen to retain the antiquated lifestyle and beliefs of their ancestors.
Set in 1973, the descendants of an Irish separatist colony remain a community stressed by pestilence and famine that struck seventeen years prior. The villagers feel a sense of spiritual abandonment in regards to their misfortune, as well as resentment towards Agatha Earnshaw (Catherine Walker), a suspected heretic, who is the only thriving member of their society.
Adding to the town’s frustration is the fact that Miss Earnshaw refuses to sell or trade her crop and animals to those less fortunate.
One could say this is a basic plot centered around religion, hate, and fear. These are good themes to build and carry the story, but it is the underlying secrecy on Agatha’s part that draws in the viewer.
An unwed woman with a daughter’s existence kept hidden. A child born during an eclipse. And a father who remains unknown.
This is the story of Audrey Earnshaw, a girl’s coming of age. A Lillith-like child, she draws upon her strength to avenge a public insult against her mother. Contrary to her mother’s wishes, she begins the task of punishing the man who humiliated her mother. It’s also a study of human nature, and the need to blame others for misfortunes rather than searching for answers. Like Audrey, the villagers behave like angry children, lacking direction and wanting to inflict their pain upon others.
The film moves at a steady pace and does not hold on one topic for an extended period.
This tactic is what holds interest as the audience is allowed to draw their own conclusions, rather than have the plot spoonfed to them. Some questions remain unanswered. Topics remain open-ended and allow room for story analysis and character exploration. The film is also rich in symbolism and adds depth to the film’s unique brand of storytelling.
The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw does have a few dark scenes which can be a bit difficult to navigate, but this tactic seems to work in the film’s favor as it adds to the sense of mystery and tension throughout. Adding to the interest is the excellent wardrobe design, effectively reflective of another time, in addition to the characters’ accents. These elements give the impression of watching a period piece set in the colony’s native Ireland.
This is not at all what you would typically expect from an occult horror film. Instead, the viewer is presented with strong story telling and character development. There are no bluntly shocking moments, but it does contain one subtle and possibly discomforting moment involving a sheep. This is clearly not a film for the average gorehound and caters more to the analytical plot seeker.