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The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw

USA 2020
produced by
Gianna Isabella, Shaked Berenson (executive), Susan Curran (executive), Patrick Ewald (executive), Thomas Robert Lee (executive), James Mahoney (executive), Bill Marks (executive), George Mihalka (executive), Marie-Claude Poulin (executive), Divya Shahani (executive) for Gate 67, Telefilm Canada
directed by Thomas Robert Lee
starring Jessica Reynolds, Catherine Walker, Jared Abrahamson, Sean McGinley, Don McKellar, Hannah Emily Anderson, Geraldine O'Rawe, Barb Mitchell, David LeReaney, Anna Cummer, Tom Carey, Alexis McKenna, Lorette Clow, Shawna Pliva McGill, Geordie Cheeseman, Kamryn Pilva
written by Thomas Robert Lee, music by Bryan Buss, Thilo Schaller

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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An isolated Irish enclave, rural USA, the 1950s: A disease has ravaged the area, not at all helped by the fact that the land has remained mostly barren, leading to an almost complete crop failure, affecting the livelyhood of the locals. Only the Earnshaw farm has driven in a rich harvest, so much so that it hasn't only become the target of envy of the neighbourhood, the locals have started to act increasingly hostile towards Agatha Earnshaw (Catherine Walker), so much so that she has decided to hide her daughter Audrey (Jessica Reynolds) away. Even when traveling she keeps Audrey in a box in the back of her horse wagon. Now the locals become increasingly suspicious as to why the Earnshaw farm has been spared from this year's drought - and it's because Agatha and Audrey are a part of a witches coven ... not that anyone would no of course. But Agatha relies purely on white witchcraft, she would never do it to harm others - to the increasing annoyance of Audrey, who doesn't like to be hiding away from the locals at all times, and who doesn't like how the locals treat her mother, just because of her crops. And when she, from inside her box, witnesses Agatha being slapped by local Colm (Jared Abrahamson), she has just about had enough, and that evening shows up on his doorstep, pretending to be a girl lost, and he, having no idea that she's Agatha's daughter, offers her abode for the night - and that way she gets something personal of his to properly curse him. Soon enough, weird stuff happens with Colm's wife (Hannah Emily Anderson) before it's found out she's pregnant. Next, Audrey goes after Bernard (Don McKellar), who has seen her and her mother and knows their little secret - and despite being bribed into secrecy, he couldn't keep his mouth shut, and thus his whole family die from the food Audrey's mother has given them in return for the hush up. And ultimately, Audrey also goes after the local priest (Sean McGinley) and his family. Thing is, none of what Audrey is doing is doing much for her and her mother's safety, as the reservations of the locals only grow due to her actions - until they reach a dangerous boiling point ...

 

The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw is a pretty cool urban gothic, one that avoids spectacle and gives its plot time to develop, while successfully creating an atmosphere of unease to keep the audience on the edges of their seats throughout. And some quite impressive cinematography really goes the extra mile doing so, while the direction wisely avoids all post-modern irony and tells its story as a sort of existential folk tale, also helped of course by the very grounded performances, all of which make this a rather fascinating piece of creepy cinema.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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