The Movie Waffler First Look Review - CROW | The Movie Waffler

First Look Review - CROW

A crooked property developer attempts to remove a mysterious group of squatters from his land.

Review by Ren Zelen (@renzelen)

Directed by: Wyndham Price

Starring: Tom Rhys Harries, Elen Rhys, Andrew Howard, Nick Moran, Jason Hughes, Danny Webb, Terence Stamp, Emily Bevan, Katrine De Candole, Ben McGregor, Nicholas McGaughey, Maarten Dannenberg

The subject of ancient natural forces and eco-horror is little explored in the realm of horror film. Crow is certainly an original enterprise in that regard.

First let’s be clear about one thing: this film is NOT a remake of the 1994 movie starring Brandon Lee, this is a British movie based on the play Stone The Crows by Tim Rhys and filmed in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales. It concerns wealthy crook turned property developer Tucker (Nick Moran), who buys up some ancient woodland with the intention of clearing it to build a stately mansion house for himself and his young wife Alicia (Elen Rhys), mainly to pander to his own hubris and vanity.

One might be tempted to call Wyndham Price-directed movie Crow an Eco-horror (have I just labelled a new genre?) because the violence starts when the insensitive, crass townie chooses to evict the eco-warrior settlers squatting on his newly acquired land.

Frustrated and insulted by the squatters’ derisive dismissal of his offer to pay them off, and unable to persuade them to move despite verbal threats and bluster, Tucker chooses instead to revert to his old ways and rough them up. This starts a chain of events which will lead to some very grievous consequences.

The settlers see themselves as part of an ancient pantheistic tribe, and their youngest member, Crow (Tom Rhys Harries) appears to be the one most in touch with this heritage.

Crow’s tribe is living on the streets and telling tales of their ancestry and of the old life back in the primal forest. When the tribe is uprooted by a police raid, a remaining few escape and take up residence in their previous homeland.

Crow immediately feels a connection to the woodland – perceiving the spirits of the dead buried far beneath the forest floor in the ancient burial grounds and hearing the voice of the Great Crow spirit himself (Terence Stamp) who tells him he is chosen protector of the earth mother and of her interests.

When townie Tucker comes around with his toughs to brutally force the squatters out of the farmhouse where they have been living, young Crow evades his notice and manages to flee into the wood with their leader, the badly injured Harley (Andrew Howard).

However, despite a long-term preservation order, Tucker wants to take the woodland too and will stop at nothing to get it and, much to the discomfort of his workmen, then intends to raze it to the ground. Tucker’s wife Alicia also begins to have misgivings about his plans and herself begins to fall victim to the strange powers residing in the woodland.

Her anxiety grows as she and Jill (Emily Bevan), one of the site managers, begin to research into the history of the surrounding area and soon uncover some disconcerting information.

As Tucker becomes more determined to destroy the wood and replace it with his own vision, a strange, mystic and bloody battle ensues between him and the presences in the wood, now manifest in the boy Crow. Tucker doesn’t comprehend the invisible influences around him and, spurred on by pride, fails to realise that he is contedting with a young man who has the mythic power of nature fighting alongside him. Tucker and his men are soon to feel the force of a terrible retribution.

The subject of ancient natural forces and eco-horror is little explored in the realm of horror film. Crow is certainly an original enterprise in that regard. Filmed predominantly in Merthyr Mawr woods, this movie is less Blair Witch and more Wicker Man in its sensibility, but ultimately resembles neither of these.

Crow has a particular mystic, ecological message but is never entirely transparent as to whether the central character is really a receptacle of his ancient supernatural heritage and being guided by an ancient spirit, or whether the stories he has been told by his elders have simply permeated his consciousness a little too far and driven him slightly mad. The film is all the better for not giving us pat answers but allowing the viewers to form their own conclusions.

Crow considers what extremes people may go to to protect what they believe and when they perceive their precious world is being threatened.

Crow was viewed at Frightfest 2016.