The last couple of weeks have been a bit “Reece Shearsmith dominated”. First I watched “A Field in England” directed by Ben Wheatley after seeing on Twitter that the film was released on line on the same day as it appeared in cinemas. After reading the reviews I decided to wait until bright daylight before hitting “play” and I’m glad I did.
This isn’t a film review as such but if you like monochrome films about Civil War deserters eating magic mushrooms then going a bit bat sh*t crazy this is the one for you. I enjoyed it on the whole. When I discussed it with a Twitter pal of mine though we both said “Oh the tent scene – what the heck?!”
I don’t think I need to add a spoiler alert but at one point Reece Shearsmith’s character Whitehead goes into a tent and then there’s screaming. A lot of screaming. A full minute of terrified, chilling, screaming. Then he comes out with the most disturbing smile I’ve ever seen in my film viewing history and I’ve seen Jack Nicholson in “The Shining”, Tim Curry in “It” and the shark in “Jaws”. The most disturbing thing is you don’t know WHY. No hint is given. So your imagination whirrs into action until you have to stop thinking about it because it’s going to very dark places. It’s BRILLIANT!
A couple of days later the same Reece Shearsmith announces on Twitter that he’s narrated 2 books by Robert Aickman, an author I hadn’t come across before and wish I had. If you like the short stories of M R James then you’ll love these. The first I listened to (and I particularly like listening to books) was “The Wine Dark Sea” and I’ve listened to the second short story “Trains” twice just to make sure it one of the most chilling stories I’ve encountered. It is. Two women hikers are caught in a rain storm in a lonely deserted valley when they see a dark house by the railway …
In my opinion the best thing, like the film, is that you have to use your imagination. The story gets to a terrifying climax and just stops. Again in my opinion it shouldn’t work, you should feel cheated but I didn’t. I could clearly imagine that scene, Margaret at the window, Mimi just turning round to see .. what’s that on the floor behind her .. then silence. It’s the equivalent of stepping off an escalator too quickly. There’s a jolt and your imagination just keeps going.
What do you think? Do you like that feeling too or do you feel cheated if there isn’t a proper explanation at some point? Do you think sooner or later you need some “steak with the sizzle”?
I tweeted Mr Shearsmith to congratulate him on his narration of “The Wine Dark Sea”, he tweeted back to say thanks. I was ever so glad he didn’t end with a smily face!