Cast: Amy Manson, James Cosmo, Simon Quarterman, Nora-Jane Noone
Running Time: 101 minutes
Estranged is one of the six films that launches the new digital film platform Frightfest Presents. The centre consists of films that all screened at this August’s Frightfest, the others on offer include Aaaaaaaah!, After Death, Night of the Living Deb, The Sand, and Some Kind of Hate. The label offers a horror movie for everyone, so what does Estranged have to offer?
Estranged is a tense, claustrophobic thriller with interesting ideas. During the opening minutes we meet January and Callum, a young and in love couple having a whale of a time on holiday. Sadly their fun is cut short after a moped accident leaves January unable to walk and with big gaps in her memory. Having no where else to go the pair head back to January’s family home, not realising that she hasn’t seen them for many years. You see, there was a terrible ‘incident’ and thanks to her memory loss January doesn’t recall the specifics. The rest of the clan do, but no one wants to share.
Her estranged family are a healthy mix of rich, eccentric and eccentrically rich – think of a modern day Downton crossed with the Addams’. It transpires that January is from a fairly affluent family, her mother, father, brother, sister and butler all live together in a rather grand, if not slightly dilapidated, house smack bang in the middle of the country. At first the couple can’t quite believe it and the family’s odd behaviours start to creep in. January then starts to question if all is as it seems; her brother for example seems to have an unhealthy interest in her sex life and her sister has all the makings of an unbalanced stalker. Then Callum mysterious disappears leaving January completely alone with her kin, at which point events get very intriguing.
Memory loss is a terribly upsetting phenomena, one that none of us wish to experience and therefore lends itself perfectly to the horror genre. The story is told almost completely from January’s perspective meaning that the viewer is just as in the dark, causing unease and lots of second and third guessing of what is really going on.
Estranged is not a horror film that relies on jump scares, gore or a mass body count to entertain. It focusses instead on the drama of broken families and broken bodies. Estranged is particularly brilliant at wringing tension and casting doubts in the viewer’s mind, making it a great cerebral and thrilling horror.
Meet the family for yourself when Estranged arrives on digital download at Frightfest Presents on 19th October. Own it on DVD from 11th April.