WINIFRED MEEKS / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: JASON FIGGIS / STARRING: LARA BELMONT, JULIE ABBOTT, JOHN WEST, DARREN TRAVERS / RELEASE DATE: TBC
Irish filmmaker Jason Figgis came on our radar with some great, brutal indie films including The Ecstasy of Isabell Mann and Don’t You Recognise Me? Now, however, he has turned his hand to A more subtle brand terror with his latest movie.
Anna (Belmont) has been through a traumatic breakup and decides to take herself away to a recently renovated, remote cottage to focus on her writing. She soon begins to feel a sense of unease in the place, and starts to look into the history of the place and is both disturbed and fascinated by what she finds.
Winifred Meeks has classic horror storytelling at its heart. Figgis is not afraid to take his time building a mood and atmosphere sorely lacking in many modern movies. He brilliantly uses the Suffolk countryside to convey feelings of isolation and become more than merely aesthetic. Dialogue takes place over shots of clouds, and old-time radio shows and movies playing throughout the soundtrack add to the otherworldliness of the situation and location. This is the type of story and presentation that would not be out of place on the BBC at Christmas. If flashy visuals and incessant jump scares are your thing, we suggest you look elsewhere. What we have is a thought-provoking ethereal haunted house tale that doesn’t necessarily conform to what we expect, but delivers enough chills and is seriously compelling.
As well as Figgis’ direction and eye for the visuals, a large reason this works is down to Lara Belmont. She carries the film on her shoulders with very little screen time given to other the actors, who appear only on the soundtrack for the most part. She is brilliantly engaging and completely believable as a woman broken by recent events, but determined to overcome the odds to complete her novel on time.
Winifred Meeks is gloriously atmospheric, and if you like your horror in the mould of the M.R. James classics, then you won’t go wrong.