This is just what the makers of Preternatural have managed. It’s a story that is so ‘meta’ it almost defies description. If you think the timey-wimey ‘cleverness’ of Doctor Who of late is bold, wait until you get a load of this!
What we have is presented almost as a home movie, with the leads (playing versions of themselves) setting out to make a spoof Blair Witch pseudo-documentary film. Through the auditions to the filming of the movie itself, we follow the hapless filmmakers as they attempt to make their work of art. However, as filming progresses, people and things may not be as innocuous as they seem.
It’s a hard film to explain without giving away too much of the fun of watching it all unfold. When one begins viewing Preternatural, you might find yourself groaning at the lameness of some of the gags or even at how forced some of it is; but stick with it, because as things progress, it becomes as clever and bafflingly brilliant as anything made for many thousands more than its £150 budget.
At one point Gav and Dixon (the characters) say ‘What we do if this was a movie?’ and it’s that knowing stance that drives the narrative for a large part of the film, and it’s refreshing to see that premise handled in such a matter of fact manner. It allows in-jokes and self-referential gags to flow thick and fast.
There’s a point in the film where things shift and the action is underpinned by an ominous and imposing score (also by director Steel). Elements like those that raise Preternatural above the standard no-budget vanity flick, and make a re-watch almost essential.
Steel’s first feature, The Shadow of Death was a fun homage to the slasher film that was perhaps bogged down by the humour that would occasionally feel too forced, but the very real, natural and engrossing nature of this film highlights the fun while also providing a genuine sense of fear and dread. What could have been too clever for its own good becomes a totally unpretentious and wild ride.
Well worth tracking down if it hits your local festival.
PRETERNATURAL / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: GAV CHUCKIE STEEL / SCREENPLAY: DIXON BARKER / STARRING: DAN BONE, GAV CHUCKIE STEEL, BEN SHOCKLEY, JANE WEST / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Expected Rating: 6 out of 10