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Fright Night Friday: The Unkindness of Ravens (2016)

I previously talked about the intersection of art and horror with my review of Lord of Tears. Lawrie Brewster’s The Unkindness of Ravens continues that direction and takes it to a different level.

Whereas LoT was more of a supernatural mystery, I classify Unkindness as a psychological thriller. Although there are horrific manifestations, they arise less from the paranormal and more from the mental.

As before, Mr. Brewster and his team bring an intensity to the screen that kept me glued. The direction and cinematography not only haunt but make the audience feel the loneliness, conflict, and madness of the protagonist.

Jamie Scott Gordon outdoes his performance in Lord of Tears, making Andrew’s psychoses and conflict come to life. To carry a film in which he’s the only screen presence for the vast majority is impressive.

Gavin Robertson and Michael Brewster are masters of imagery, putting you right alongside Andrew on his horrific journey. Of course, the use of the Scottish Highlands played no small part in creating the eerie world through which he travels.

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Story-wise, I find this one superior in some ways to Lord of Tears. Although still somewhat predictable, despite a twist towards the end, I think Sarah Daly’s writing created a solid backbone underneath the chaos of the film.

I will say the visual effects sometimes fell a little flat, particularly the low-quality CG birds and war scenes. There were some excellent practical effects, however, that churned the stomach in all the right ways.

Now, I found the “Owl Man” far more disturbing than the “Raven Warriors”, although they grew on me. I may merely be jaded when it comes to horror, though, as my young son found these creatures terrifying, hiding under the covers at times.

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I won’t lie as I think Unkindness may be too chaotic and confusing for some viewers. The way the film portrays the conflict within Andrew’s mind, through quick edits, random scenes, jumps into memories, and shifts between realities are quite overwhelming.

I found that to be the movie’s strength, however, in the same manner in which Hellblade: Senua portrayed schizophrenia. In fact, much of the imagery throughout reminded me of that game and provided the same sense of being lost and confused.

The Unkindness of Ravens continues to show how well the team at Hex Media works. I can’t wait for their new film, The Black Gloves, and hope to see their work spread over to here in America.

I give The Unkindness of Ravens a haunting 4 bone flutes out of 5.

About Brook H. (92 Articles)
Generalist, polymath, jack-of-all-trades... what hasn't Brook studied. Knowledge is power, which is probably why he ended up with degrees in Human Behavior and Psychology, not to mention majoring in everything from computers to business while working in theater, security, emergency communications, and human services. He currently resides outside Baltimore where he tries to balance his children, local politics, hobbies, and work. Brook is a major Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing advocate (he's HoH himself), lifelong gamer (from table-top to computer), loves everything paranormal, and is a Horror-movie buff.

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