In 1943, a group of young lads found the skeleton hidden in an old Wych Elm tree. It was found to be the remains of a young woman and rumours persisted that the victim was Bella, a local prostitute who may have fallen prey to a satanic ritual. Taking this real-life crime, writer/director Tom Lee Rutter crafts a haunting overview of the case with disturbing visuals and an eerie soundtrack.
The short is narrated in almost comforting fashion by ‘Tatty’ Dave Jones, with other voices heard only occasionally when needed. The blend of overexposed, damaged black and white imagery and the folk-like discordant music (by ‘The Worrisome Ankletrout’ aka Jon Joseph Murray) helps build an effective atmosphere, giving the film a grander feeling than those approaching this independent low budget effort would expect. Visually, it is reminiscent of films such as Vampyr (1932) and the German silent expressionistic classics.
Produced a few years ago, Rutter has gone back to his short to spruce things up and give it a new lease of life. Packing quite a bit of information in its thirty-minute-plus running time, it’s a film that manages to successfully get under the viewer’s skin without going over the top on cheap scares.
A Blu-ray of the short, which promises to be full of extra features can be pre-ordered here.