Review: Sawney – Flesh of Man / Cert: 18 / Director: Ricky Wood / Screenplay: Ricky Wood / Starring: Samuel Feeney, David Hayman, Elizabeth Brown / Release Date: August 19th
Historians tend to believe that Alexander “Sawney” Bean never actually existed, but legend has it that he was the head of a 28-strong clan in 15th or 16th century Scotland that was executed for the mass murder and cannibalisation of over 1000 people. This is the launching point for Ricky Wood’s film, which supposes that remnants of the Sawney clan remain alive and are abducting helpless victims from the streets of Scotland in order to keep themselves fed.
Sawney: Flesh of Man follows reporter Hamish (Feeney) as he tracks a story about a missing girl and stumbles across the rumour of a black taxi cab which picks up wayward young women who are never seen or heard of again. The police tend to view him as something of a nuisance who is hampering their investigation but eventually the horror strikes close to home and Hamish ends up having to take on the ruthless clan of cannibals all by himself.
Although low budget and shot on digital, this film goes to prove that just because you don’t have much money doesn’t mean your film has to look cheap. The film is visually very striking, from the desolate late-night city streets to the misty Scottish countryside. Cinematographer Ranald Wood makes the film look far more expensive that it is, and it all helps add to the sense of menace. Sawney also has all the unpleasantness and gore you could hope for. Actor David Hayman plays the current leader of the clan and he relishes the role and the camera seems content to linger on all the meat and battered and bruised flesh as he (literally) chews the scenery. Apart from one scene of sexual violence, the film never goes too far just for the sake of it and doesn’t cross the line from thriller to exploitation.
What holds the film back from greatness is the lead actor Samuel Feeney, in a terribly underwritten role. The film’s characterisation of ‘grizzled journalist’ seems to consist of little more than stubble, manbag and hip flask, while Feeney looks like he's just wandered in off the set of Hollyoaks. Every time he is on the screen you will find yourself disconnecting, which is a shame considering how good the rest of it is. The finale in particular is one of the most exciting in a horror film for some time.
Sawney: Flesh of Man is a nasty and entertaining hour and change of entertainment which would be perfectly nice post pub viewing. Ricky Wood has made a very strong debut and is definitely a name to watch.