A Haunting in Cawdor is a low-budget horror film that pits a bunch of young offenders attempting to stage a production of Macbeth, only to find that the play is actually cursed. It doesn’t sound great does it? Surprise, surprise…The film is just as bad as its premise sounds.
Vivian Miller (Shelby Young) is a troubled twenty-something who is sent to serve her last ninety days of probation at the Cawdor Barn Theatre. The rural complex serves as a quasi-summer camp, which also apparently doubles up as a low-security penitentiary. Weird. Anyway, the theatre is run by a once successful, but now forgotten, director Lawrence (Cary Elwes). Lawrence is determined to put on a production of Shakespeare’s Scottish play, despite heavy hints that he’s already had a couple of disastrous attempts to do so in the past. After being cast in the play, Vivian decides to do a little research by watching an old taping of a Macbeth stage production. Unfortunately this little viewing session accidently releases a supernatural, murderous evil spirit. Well shit, Vivian. Way to go.
One of the major difficulties whilst watching this film is the quality of the performances. Young and Elwes aren’t bad at working with the clusterf**k of a script but that is clearly due to their professionalism and experience ascertained from established works such as American Horror Story and the Saw franchise. The rest of the supporting cast are painful, and in particular the other campers. They simply don’t act like real people – convicts or not. They are instead a hideous amalgamation of stereotypical, hormone driven, childish campers and volatile, insolent delinquents.
It's honestly a shame, because this film had the potential to be so much more. As works like Friday the 13th and Sleepaway Camp proved, the camp setting is ripe for a horror film but A Haunting in Cawdor never utilises the isolative milieu to its advantage. The film does have minor, minor moments of experimental intrigue, such as the illusory images of the three witches that plague Vivian. Ultimately though, this is a dull affair that is only made more frustrating by an incomprehensible ending.
We will always forgive low budget horror for below par effects, score and even acting if we are presented with an engaging or intelligent plot, but unfortunately this film offers neither. It isn’t really ‘A Haunting in Cawdor’ at all, its far more ‘A Bore in Cawdor’.
A HAUNTING IN CAWDOR / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: PHIL WURTZEL / STARRING: SHELBY YOUNG, CARY ELWES, MICHAEL WELCH, SCOTT T. WHITESELL / RELEASE DATE: TBC