In the late 1800s, a man arrives in a remote country village to investigate an attack by a wild animal but discovers a much deeper and sinister force that has the manor and its townspeople in its grip.
The werewolf legend gets an intriguing makeover in Sean Ellis’ Eight for Silver, a revisionist horror story that takes elements from European folklore, the 1941 classic The Wolfman and a variety of other sources to create something wholly unique. Taking place in 19th century France, the film benefits mightily from its location shooting and perpetually overcast cinematography to create a genuinely disturbing milieu that powerfully underscores the sense of dread the filmmaker masterfully creates.
Seamus Laurent (Alistair Petrie) is a European landowner who will do anything to protect his massive estate and that includes massacring a group of gypsies who squat on his land. And while he sees such acts as his God-given right, this proves to have dire consequences as the leader of the gypsy clan levels a curse on his family just before she’s brutally slain. His son and daughter soon begin having horrific dreams that lead them to the site where the mass killing occured, which ultimately leads to horrific attack on the young boy that has tragic consequences. Soon, a series of horrific murders been to take place in the area, the bodies horribly mutilated. A local pathologist (Boyd Holbrook) catches wind of the slayings and decides to investigate.
Ellis creates a gothic vibe that permeates throughout and helps establish a sense of foreboding that pays off handsomely with a steady supply of scares and two incredibly set pieces that will satisfy even the most jaded fan of the genre. An autopsy scene, reminiscent of John Carpenter’s The Thing, proves not only to be a horrific, showstopping moment, but provides an inspiring plot twist that casts the werewofl legend in a new and intriguing light. And while there’s nothing held back in this moment, Ellis shows a sense of restraint that proves effective. Getting only glimpses of the monster in question hightens the fear factor as we’re never really sure what the villagers are contending with, while the final reveal does not disappoint.
Those looking for non-stop thrills will likely have their patience tried as this is a slow burn. However, those willing to invest the time will not be disappointed as Ellis provides not only some memorable frights but also a thoughtful examination of the tragedy that befalls a generation that is forced to pay for the sins of their fathers.
3 1/2 Stars
Find out what Sean Ellis, the director had to say about the film in Chuck’s recent Sundance interview: https://youtu.be/S32kl9MGFKM