VOD REVIEW: THE SINGING BIRD WILL COME / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: IAIN ROSS-MCNAMEE / SCREENPLAY: IAIN ROSS-MCNAMEE / STARRING: GILLIAN HARKER, CHARLES O’NEILL, LAURA WILSON, AARON JEFFCOATE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Moving back home to the north from London when she loses her job, her mother dies, and her relationship fails; Lauren (Harker) has a lot to contend with. A father who has resorted to the bottle to cope with his loss, a wayward and angry brother, bitchy friends and a job that’s beneath her as a night cleaner in local restaurant. It’s while working she begins to see a presence and feel a mournful spirit. She discovers a waitress went missing almost twenty years ago, and is convinced it’s her manifestation that is making itself known to the susceptible but inquisitive Lauren.
With an incredibly small budget, writer/director Ross-McNamee has managed to craft a film which embodies the essence of the classic British ghost story. Aside from a few moments that could be inspired by the Japanese/Korean horror films of the late nineties, it has a brooding atmosphere of the classic tales of M. R. James and the like. With the heavy prominence of loss as a theme, it strikes more than a few chords, without becoming too clichéd. Despite being a first-time director, he manages to create some fantastic scenes of terror and dripping with anxiety. Without resorting to too many cheap jump shocks (and those that are present are well executed), and with the help of a complementary and impressive score and sound design, the film draws the viewer in, building the tension to tangible levels.
The final product belies the budget, coming across as much more lavish production, despite the (occasional obvious) inexperienced cast members. Gillian Harker is in practically every scene and is brilliant as the lead; thoroughly convincing and completely captivating. She and director Ross-McNamee, whose confidence behind the camera is quite remarkable, are names to watch out for in the future.