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The Wicker Man Redux

A remote Irish community hides a dark secret in this gripping thriller from the UK. Recalling such Brit horror classics as The Wicker Man, Brackenmore is a suspenseful occult flick with fine performances from its strong cast. An orphaned woman is lured back to her ancestral home for sinister purposes and the answers lie in this rural village. Director Christopher Kemble has crafted a fine, if slowly paced, horror film with creepy undertones and a powerful ending.

Londoner Kate Reynolds (Sophie Hopkins) inherits her uncle’s estate, an unknown relative to her, in Brackenmore, a tiny rural village in the South of Ireland. Orphaned at a young age and looking for answers, Kate decides to go off and claim the estate by herself. Working through some difficulties in their marriage, she leaves behind her husband Steven (Kieran Baker).

Kate quickly befriends a friendly local in Brackenmore, Tom (D.J. McGrath). He helps show her around town and fills in a little local background on her family history. Finding old pictures of her uncle and parents in her uncle’s home, the mysteries keep piling up about her past. The isolated village has strange traditions but its locals are mostly pleasant, if a tad eccentric in their ways.

Kate is enjoying the local color when something occurs that changes everything for her. It’s a big moment in the narrative that comes out of nowhere. What seemed like a quaint village suddenly turns into a darkly disturbing threat. From there it’s a chilling ride into terror for Kate where her life is turned upside down.

The thriller’s action is kept grounded with fine practical effects…

Occult thrillers have a long tradition in British horror and Brackenmore pays them fine homage. Sophie Hopkins and D.J. McGrath are excellent leads, forced by the less-is-more script to carry the film. Including credits, Brackenmore is fairly short at just 72 minutes. That doesn’t necessarily say anything about the film, though there are points in the narrative that could have been expanded for greater texture and characterization. It would have been nice if the final act had elucidated some of the village’s background in a more clear manner.

The sleepy narrative is slow to build but perfectly punctuated by a couple of horrific moments that you will remember long after the movie has ended. The thriller’s action is kept grounded with fine practical effects, making what happens in Brackenmore more believable. It’s one of the tighter indie horror films of the last several years, a taut narrative sculpted to perfection without any superfluous scenes. The superb cast are all natural fits for their roles. That adds credibility and authenticity to Brackenmore, which was shot on location in Ireland.

Brackenmore is about Kate and her hidden family background, in this rural town that may still practice pagan rituals. It’s a dark journey for the young woman and we as the viewers are taken along for the thrilling ride. Brackenmore is indie horror that makes up for its lack of big budget trappings with fine acting and tight writing. It’s nothing a devoted British horror fan hasn’t seen before, but it’s well-crafted enough to keep you on the edge of your seat through its memorable finale.

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Excellent British pagan horror about a young woman seeking out her family’s mysterious background.

User Review
5 (1 vote)

MVDVisual distributes Brackenmore on DVD in a windowboxed 2.35:1 presentation. The 2017 production runs 72:34 with no subtitles and a 2.0 English PCM soundtrack. No special features are included on the DVD.

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