FORMAT: DVD, VOD, LIMITED THEATRES (US) / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (US), NOVEMBER 16TH (UK)
Mixing witchcraft with the look of a western, The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw is an intriguing, folk horror tale with plenty of atmosphere.
The film is set in a remote, isolated Irish-American Protestant community that has been plagued with barren crops for 17 years following an eclipse. The only land that bears any produce is owned by Agatha Earnshaw (Catherine Walker), a single woman who has been hiding a secret child since the eclipse. Her daughter, Audrey (Jessica Reynolds) is honing her powers as a witch, and most of the farm’s bounty is taken to a nearby coven. After Audrey’s existence is discovered by some of the village, illness and madness spreads.
Writer/director Thomas Robert Lee gives his film a classical look, it could easily pass for The Little House on the Prairie visually, but rather than being set at the turn of the century, the place-out-of-time is actually placed in the early ‘70s - only clues such as the occasional airplane bring this home. The language and temperament may evoke films such as The VVitch or Jughead, but the story does its own thing. Remarkably acted by all, chiefly Reynolds, whose teenage rebellion against her mother and circumstances brings about the misfortune of others, albeit not in a malevolent way. Her mother is trapped in her own way, having had to shoulder the burden or keeping the young witch a secret for so long and having to deal with the fruitful farm. A moody and dour ambience permeates throughout and the film will rightfully go to be known as one of the great folk horror films.