The most stylish and unusual film of this year’s FrightFest Halloween was Lawrie Brewster’s The Black Gloves, a strikingly shot in black-and-white psychological horror film with elements of classic mid-20th Century classics like The Innocents, coupled with the likes of Black Swan and Argento’s Suspiria.
Psychiatrist Finn Galloway (Jamie Scott Gordon), whilst investigating the disappearance of a young patient, is drawn to a mysterious house in the Highlands where a ballerina resided, who suffered burns in a theatre fire whilst performing Swan Lake, under the watchful eye of a mysterious woman, Lorena Velsaco (Macarena Gomez). Galloway bluffs his way into her presence and decides to stay. However, his trail is compounded by repeated references to a dark figure resembling an ‘Owl-Man’. As such, the net begins to tighten on his objective, just as the dark forces begin to work their black magic on his perceptions…
Brewster said in his introduction and during the post-screening Q and A that he wanted to evoke memories of those classic films like The Innocents and Psycho and, like Ben Wheatley when he conceived A Field in England, it is a daring choice which he uses to great effect, particularly in his cinematography which is the first reason for seeing The Black Gloves.
The technical virtues of the film are backed up by great performances from Gordon and Gomez, who encapsulate characters who are both conflicted in their desires to both find out and conceal the truth of their situations.
It certainly is a movie that will demand repeat viewings and in time will definitely become one of the cult hits of the genre, because it doesn’t resort to the modern-day expectations and motifs that many film-makers experimenting and working in the genre want to go for. The Scottish setting could also be a nod to Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man, particularly during the atmospheric opening sequence when the first bad moments happen.
From the outset, with its classic, vintage credit sequence, echoing the classic Universal horrors of the 1930s like Dracula and Frankenstein, The Black Gloves provides a more thought-provoking and affecting experience. The ‘Owl-Man’ figure is based on a real-life Scottish folk-tale pointed out by writer Sarah Daly in the same post-screening Q and A (further to a question this writer posed at the event) and it’s for this reason that the film has to be applauded for trying a new approach to horror filmmaking.
If you are looking for Saw-style gore and Halloween-style suspense, then you may not be keen on this film. However, if you are in demand of something a bit more intellectual and meaty, then The Black Gloves is exactly what you are looking for. It might even focus you on watching more of the classic examples I have mentioned here.
THE BLACK GLOVES / CERT: TBD / DIRECTOR: LAWRIE BREWSTER / SCREENPLAY: SARAH DALY / STARRING: JAMIE SCOTT JORDAN, MACARENA GOMEZ, ALEXANDRA NICOLE HUME / RELEASE DATE: 28TH OCTOBER (FRIGHTFEST)