LORD OF MISRULE (2023). Review by Steve Kirkham

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4 stars
Signature Entertainment. Digital Platforms 8th January

Christopher Lee’s autobiography was also called Lord of Misrule – and inevitably any movie within the folk horror sub genre will be compared to a certain well known classic starring the famous actor. That being said, this new horror manages to peak out from behind the long shadow cast by The Wicker Man, despite unavoidable echoes.

Rebecca Holland (the excellent Tuppence Middleton), or Mrs Vicar, as the locals call her, has recently taken over the ministry of a church in the ever familiar small rural community. She has moved there with her husband Henry (Matt Stokoe) and their young daughter Grace (Evie Templeton). Pagan rituals hold more sway than her poorly attended church services.

Trying to fit in and ingratiate themselves with the villagers, they attend the Harvest Festival – especially as Grace has been chosen to be “Harvest Angel”, complete with wings. Despite Rebecca’s reservations they embrace the carnival atmosphere, with it’s Medieval trappings and masked characters.

But then their life is ripped apart when their precious offspring goes missing – lured away by a masked stranger.

With the police ineffective, Rebecca takes it upon herself to try and locate Grace, and finds herself coming up against ancient beliefs and residents more interested in local folklore than assisting in any way.

Building a growing sense of dread, director William Brent Bell (Orphan: First Kill) has crafted an unnerving, atmospheric and creepy chiller from a script by Tom de Ville (The Quiet Ones). The powerful and effective score by Brett Detar adds to the ambience.

As well as the already mention Middleton, Ralph Inneson is notable as the gruff voiced villager who knows more than he is letting on.

Will the Vicar’s Christian faith be able to overcome the deeply ingrained olde world belief system?

Steve Kirkham