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EVIE [FrightFest 2021]

Written By:

Martin Unsworth

The latest film from Dominic Brunt (Before Dawn) – who co-directs with Jamie Lundy – is a brooding, psychological family thriller with a touch of mythology.

An idyllic family living by the sea are faced with upheaval when young Evie (Honey Lundy) finds a necklace bearing a strange sigil. Once she starts wearing it, she begins acting up. She becomes awkward, walking out during a church service and arguing with her parents (Joanne Mitchell and Liam McMahon) and getting a reputation at school as ‘freaky Evie’. Fast forward almost 25 years later, and grown-up Evie (Holli Dempsey) is stuck in a job she dislikes and has a troubled life. She has spent a lot of time in care and foster homes and has a history of mental health trouble. She drinks and makes dubious choices with men. When her withdrawn brother, Tony (Jay Taylor), suddenly comes back into her life telling her he is living in their family home and her father, who she thought was dead, is alive but very ill. He’s also written a book that he has self-published based on her obsession as a child called The Selkie.

With trepidation, she returns to the house she grew up in, while Tony and the local priest (played by the wonderful Michael Smiley) are concerned that she might not have gotten over what happened that fractured the family unit, nor does she fully understand or perhaps remember that time.

Filmed during lockdown, Evie makes the most of the isolated location with sweeping seascapes and windswept dunes. This isn’t the standard psychological or monster movie. Still, there’s a brooding unease throughout, and Dempsey’s portrayal of Evie is naturalistic rather than unhinged and is all the better for it. As the younger Evie, Lundy is fabulous, suggesting that perhaps she’s suddenly been possessed by a mythical creature. Occasional flashes of ‘something’ add a chill but are unnecessary as the true horror comes from the suggestion of past traumas and is second place to the human drama taking place in the modern-day. Evie struggles with her place in the world and is a relatable character, even if it’s not one we’d necessarily want to be ourselves.

Brunt’s go-to composer Thomas Ragsdale provides a provocative score that provides a pensive accompaniment, particularly in the scenes of high drama. It’s Brunt’s most emotive film since his debut Before Dawn and would work just as well without any mythical qualities.

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