MJ STEEL COLLINS checks out The Unkindness Of Ravens, a Scottish horror film to keep you awake nights on end
If you tend to veer away from most contemporary horror films because they seem to follow the same old hackneyed plots, an indie horror set in the deepest, darkest Scottish Highlands might just be the very thing for you.
The Unkindness Of Ravens tells the story of Andrew, a homeless, war scarred army veteran with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, suffering from troubling flashbacks of a disturbing incident involving ravens; the mere sight of the bird disturbs him. He is given a chance to recover with the offer of a retreat in a remote cottage in the Scottish Highlands. However, it isn’t the healing experience it’s meant to be, and Andrew slides into a battle for his life and sanity against both his own demons and an elemental evil.
A co-production between Hex Media and Dark Dunes Productions, the film stars up and coming Scottish actor Jamie Scott Gordon as Andrew. It was written by Sarah Daly, an Irish musician and screen-writer, and directed by Lawrie Brewster. This is the second joint project between Daly and Brewster; their first was the highly acclaimed Gothic chiller, Lord Of Tears.
At present, The Unkindness Of Ravens is in post-production, and part way through a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds in order to finish production. The team behind the project describe it as ‘the most ambitious crowd-funded Scottish horror film ever produced’. The target of the campaign is £40,000 and has two weeks left two go. More than half the target has been achieved.
The film is heavily influenced by the folklore surrounding the raven and the Morrigan, though Daly and Brewster created their own mythos, which features heavily in the movie. If anything, Lawrie Brewster hopes it may lead to other films of a similar vein in Scotland: “The rich mythology and stunning landscapes of Scotland are a perfect fit for the folk-horror genre. For artists like myself and writer Sarah Daly, it’s the perfect backdrop for the dark and unnerving stories we’re most passionate about, rich with mythos and lore and a sense of the ancient mixed in with the modern.’
Issues surrounding traumatised army veterans are also central to the film, with Jamie Scott Gordon meeting with former soldiers in preparation for the role. He says: “To do justice to these brave men and women, I felt I had to do all I could to understand what they were going through, and the complexities of the condition. It was an honour be able to bring some awareness to an often over-looked issue with the character of Andrew. Although The Unkindness of Raven is a horror film, it also shines a light on a section of society that’s often forgotten. We honour the ones who fought and died, but what about the ones who fought and lived? “
The film was shot on location in Fife and Perthshire. As in other horror films, the shoot featured a few uncanny moments, including a mysterious ball of fire and loud during a night shoot, which turned out to be a military training exercise! And the nearest restaurant, where the crew had dinner each day just happened to be The Blackbird Inn, right next door to the aptly named pub, The Raven Lounge.
The Unkindness Of Ravens is scheduled for release in the summer of 2016.