The Living and the Dead

A refined, atmospheric chiller much like a Hammer psychodrama is about to slip through the cracks at Two Boots. That’s unfortunate, because its main character’s wails have been ringing in my head for days. His name is James (the superb Leo Bill) and, though a grown man, he stomps and pouts his way around a decaying English manse, clearly unwell. His parents, the nearly bankrupt Lord Brocklebank (Lloyd Pack) and bedridden Nancy (Fahy), suffer quietly in his presence. To finance an operation for his wife, the graying lord heads to London to stave off his creditors; this is precisely the moment when James decides to assert himself as the man of the house: “I want you to be proud of me!” What follows is hard to watch.

Simon Rumley, the writer and director, has dedicated his film to his father and mother, the latter having died of cancer. Hopefully Rumley’s own home experience wasn’t as reminiscent of The Shining. From its evocative title down to its splintered narrative and occasional lapses into music-video hyperactivity, his film displays an artiness that might set certain viewers on snob alert. But it also knows the ghostly sound of echoing hallways and lost promise. This is a truly haunted movie.

Release details

Rated: NR
Duration: 83 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Simon Rumley
Screenwriter: Simon Rumley
Cast: Leo Bill
Roger Lloyd Pack
Kate Fahy
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