I bought this film a while back but as has happened quite a lot this year. It sat on my ‘I really want to watch this’ shelf for longer than it should, but this week I sat down with a couple of hours to spare and checked out the British thriller/horror film ‘Estranged’ Written by Simon Fantauzzo and William Borthwick and Directed by Adam Levins. I knew very little about this film before I purchased the DVD, I knew very little about the film after I purchased the DVD (I rarely read the back of the cover art nowadays. I’ve seen too many plot points given away over the years and much prefer to press play and see what the film is about for myself.
‘Estranged’ was released through the ‘Frightfest Presents’ label which is part of Icon and does a wonderful job of showcasing films that were screened at whichever years Frightfest film festival which is held in London each year (there is also a Frightfest Glasgow) and screens a crazy amount of films, some of which are fortunate enough to get distribution into the wide world, but sadly some of them don’t. ‘Estranged’ did and very much deserved to be seen by a large audience What a wonderfully strange, creepy, unique film this is. Originally titled ‘January’ the film takes us into the lives of a couple who are speeding through the streets of a European country on a moped when they crash straight into the side of the car. ‘January’ (played by Amy Manson) comes off worse and is paralysed from the waist down, a lot of her memories have gone. In order to try and heal her, both mentally and physically, she and her boyfriend Callum (played by Simon Quarterman ) return to her family home after an absence of six years. A beautiful yet somewhat run down stately home set in a wonderful green estate. (It was filmed in County Durham) We meet her Sister (played by Nora Jayne Noone), her very odd brother (played by James Lance), her Mother and Father (played by Eileen Nicholas and James Cosmo ) and Thomas the butler (played by Craig Conway)
WIth this being a horror branded film it really doesnt take us long to realise that somethings a bit off about this family. Its not quite as bizarre as say Twin Peaks, but these family members do have a bit ‘Log Lady’ in the mix, Quirky behavior, and….well they are just a bit unsettling. Brilliantly played by the cast, Id have run off like a shot because my paranoia radar went off within minutes of meeting this motley bunch of strange folk. Theres a brilliant scene which for me sums up my uneasiness pretty early on. The Father (played by James Cosmo) walks into a room with the intention of inviting the boyfriend to go pigeon shooting with him. Sounds nice enough doesnt it. But the scene plays out as James Cosmo walks into the bedroom where the boyfriend is. Shotgun under his arm and he utters the words ‘Have you ever shot at anything?’ The look on the boyfriends face says it all.
The casting and preformances are great in ‘Estranged’ everyone has their place and everyone hits their marks 100%. Even though for the first half of the film at least. Thomas the Butler (Craig Conway) doesnt really utter much dialogue. His body language and facial expressions give such a great performance of ‘creepy dude’ that its unnerving.
The film also really has very little gore in it which for my own tastes, I loved about it. ‘Estranged’ is a great story, very classic in feel. Its not really set in a specific time and doesn’t feel the need to try and be trendy or ahead of the game. It gives us a great bunch of characters, puts them in a very interesting setting and unfolds a wonderful story. Its great to see a horror film (although it works just as well as a thriller) that doesn’t rely on gore scenes, monsters or supernatural elements. ‘Estranged’ relies on showing us the scariest thing known to humanity. Humanity itself.
Check out ‘Estranged’ one of the most fresh injections into the horror/thriller genre I have seen for a while. Now lets get this up and running as a stage play because it would work perfectly. Strangely enough this is the second film that Ive seen this year starring Craig Conway that I feel would make a great theatre production. The other one being the wonderful thriller ‘Four’ which if you haven’t seen. Check that one out too.