Sunday, 6 October 2013

No.123 : The Shout

The Shout at the IMDb

Up next is this hard to fathom British horror from 1978. It’s a bit confusing and unclear but it does have a couple of good points, both of which belong to Susannah York.

The film opens with a cricket match in the grounds of a psychiatric hospital. Doctor Tim Curry is in the scorer’s cabin and he’s soon joined by Alan Bates. It’s not clear if Bates is a patient or on the staff but the two are soon bored by the match and he offers to tell Tim a story to pass the time.

We dissolve to the desolate landscape of Devon where husband and wife team John Hurt and Susannah meet a new friend in the shape of Crossley, played by Alan Bates. We’re not clear now and indeed never are if Bates is playing two characters or whether the events that are to follow see Bates committed.

He tells the couple about witchcraft and ‘the shout’ which is basically some yelling that can kill. He explains how a woman can be enchanted by someone who possesses something from her. The pair are sceptical but it’s not long before Crossley starts to get under their skins.

Hurt soon realises that the enigmatic stranger has his wife in his sights and even worse Susannah’s up for it! We see that Crossley possesses a buckle that she lost from her shoe and we have to wonder if his tales are true and whether the shout exists also.

With dead sheep and lightning bolts in the mix we have to try and understand the non-linear, and frankly baffling, narrative in the hope that a cohesive story becomes clear and that we’ve not wasted 90 minutes of our time. Oh well there is some nakedness to make it not a total waste of time.

I thought I was either a bit drunk or too slow on the uptake to figure this out but having read a few reviews I can see that I am not alone in my bemusement. I get the idea that, with the whole thing set around an asylum, everything we see is subject to interpretation and that we may be witnessing the ramblings of a mad man.

When I watch a film I expect there to be a story that I can follow with logical progression and a worthwhile pay off. If I want a load of random scenes with a message of ‘work it out for yourself’ I’d go and watch that crappy Russian film with time travel set on an industrial estate that made no sense either. Fair play the three principles are all watchable and the lovely Susannah gives her all for her craft which is much appreciated.

Overall however the film is a frustrating mishmash that’s all over the place with nothing to offer apart from the realisation that you’ve spent 90 minutes just for a look at Alan Bates’ fillings.

THE Tag Line ‘The Shite’  35%

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