Audrey Earnshaw (Jessica Reynolds) is an otherwise normal girl. That is, if you ignore that she lives with her mother Audrey (Jessica Reynolds) in a sect removed from society under the cloak of secrecy from the rest of the townspeople while fostering a burgeoning talent for witchcraft. THE CURSE OF AUDREY EARNSHAW, written and directed by Thomas Robert Lee is a refreshing, original horror film that weaves lush production design, rich plotting, and great performances to deliver a creepy tale of seething power.
As mentioned Audrey lives in secret. None of the townsfolk know that her mother, Agatha had even conceived her, much less gave birth to her and raised her. This has been a relatively easy feat to perform since the two women live miles from the main township. A member of a coven, mother Agatha sneaks off every so often with daughter in tow to convene with her sisters deep in the woods under the cloak of night. The arrangement up to this point had been going fine. Sure, the crops in the main town always failed and the livestock suffered, but Audrey and Agatha were good. That is until Audrey begins to mature and come into her own.
As the film opens Colm (Jared Abrahamson) and Bridget Dwyer (Hannah Emily Anderson) are burying their infant. Seamus Dwyer (Sean McGinley) leads a funeral at the cemetery as Agatha pulls her cart through town and into the forest. Noticed, Agatha is ridiculed, scorned, and ultimately saved by magnanimous Seamus who leads the town in weekly church services. However, Audrey, who was witness to the entire exchange in secret has had enough and decides to express her disapproval. At first it’s subtle, but then things broil to ubiquity and Seamus must uncover the issue.
Not since Robert Eggers THE WITCH have we had a film so rich in atmosphere and tone. Matt Vest‘s art direction paired with Nick Thomas pristine lensing evokes a rich world of cold, humid mystery and desperation. I will give notes to Lee’s entirely ancillary timeline plot device as it literally serves no purpose and only offers a red herring to more vigilant moviegoers. Once that is forgotten we are treated to a delicious tale of inherited vengeance and retribution.
Would I recommend THE CURSE OF AUDREY EARNSHAW? Absolutely. For the right people that is. This is a film rich in production value, artistry, and craft that has you rooting for both sides of a chilling battle between the townsfolk and the outsiders. Creepy, shocking, atmospheric, and ultimately rewarding, I would have to say that THE CURSE OF AUDREY EARNSHAW is in my top 10 horror films of 2020. It’s hardly perfect. Few films are. I was, for 90 minutes transported to a place shrouded in fog, cloaked in mystery and ultimately unsettling. In short, Watch and enjoy this creeper for Halloween 2020 and as for you Thomas Robert Lee, I want more.
8 out of 10 Scary Stories