In small, rural village where nothing is growing and people are dying, a woman has her crops thriving and seems to be doing great, so her village’s population deems her to be a witch. While she is hiding an important secret, it may not be what the villagers are expecting.
Written and directed by Thomas Robert Lee, The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw will inevitably bring comparison to The VVitch from a few years ago due to some of its themes and due to its atmosphere. While the films should appeal to the same crowd, these themes and atmosphere in common are not the main part of each film and each should be taken as its own entity. Here the story is more straight forward in a way and it works great. It does require the viewer to pay attention and have patience, which is rewarded in the end. The film is an atmospheric slow burn with a good pay off.
Playing the potential witch, Agatha Earnshaw, is Catherine Walker who is amazing with just the right combination of strength and vulnerability, the right combination of creepy and the one anyone should go to. There is something in her performance that lets the viewer know there is more to her character and it may never be revealed. While she does some acts that are unquestionably wrong, her heart seems to be in the right place (mostly). Playing the titular character is Jessica Reynolds who steals the show basically with a great performance that just attracts the attention to her without ever feeling out of place. Her work here is phenomenal. The performances in general in this film feel more subdued for most scenes which is perfect for the setting and time period represented, but also perfect for when they need to not be, giving the difference between the subdued scenes and the absolutely not so ones more impact.
What really sets The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw apart from most other films of its type is its look. The set designs and costume designs here are fantastic and should be recognized for the great work put into them. The team behind them is clearly talented while knowing what they are doing and clearly knowing their history. The film nails this aspect in every way here (but one, which is negligible).
The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw is historical slow burn horror done right. It has a story that makes sense and is interesting, a great talented cast, and an attention for details in terms of décor and costumes that is perfect for its atmosphere and aesthetic.
The Fantasia International Film Festival runs every year, and this year runs virtually from August 20th until September 2nd.