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The Cunning Man

UK 2019
produced by
Ali Cook, Ross Williams, Amy-Jo Bryant (executive), Milan Krsljanin (executive) for Harvest Pictures
directed by Zoë Dobson
starring Simon Armstrong, Ali Cook, Ian Kelly, Charlotte Jo Hanbury
written by Ali Cook, music by Lol Hammond, Duncan Forbes

short

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Afran (Simon Armstrong) is an elderly, mysterious farmer who goes around the Welsh countryside collecting dead animals for his own needs - which might be weird, but figuring he doesn't harm the animals only picks them up when he finds them dead it's harmless enough for anyone but the collector (Ali Cook) from the local abattoir who wants the animal bodies for his own needs, to sell them for profit even if they're not his. So eventually he calls a health inspector (Ian Kelly) to shut down his operations, and sure enough the inspector is on the collector's side in exchange for a share of the profit they're hoping to make from taking in Afran's dead animals - but Afran still has an (otherworldly) ace up his sleeve ...

 

One word of warning up front: If the pure sight of animal cadavers offends you, you should probably not watch this movie. But that said, this movie does not only not do anything to in any way desecrate these dead bodies (let alone use them for spectacle), it on top of that is really about respect towards animals, up to the poin where one of Afran's incantations is actually a recitation of the five key rights of animals according to the UN in Welsh - plus the finale (which I won't give away) is really one of the most humane I've seen in an eerie film like this.

Putting the animal cadavers aside for a moment, The Cunning Man is a rather powerful movie that might not have much to offer in terms of spectacle but thrives in eeriness and atmosphere, puts the mysterious and the macabre into a fresh context, and uses its deliberately slow pace to properly build up to its finale.

Surely a movie you won't forget any time soon - and for all the right reasons, too.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
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you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
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starring
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out now on DVD