SUNDANCE 2021 PREMIERE – Eight for Silver, oddly enough, begins in the trenches of WW1. A silver bullet is retrieved from an English soldier’s body and the story begins. Where did this remarkably unique bullethead come from? We flashback to England where a land war is afoot between the local Roma population and Baron Seamus Laurent (Alistair Petrie). Seamus wants them out, the Roma see no reason to give up what is theirs. What results is a savage bloodbath against the physically weaker clan and a cleverly told origin story on the birth of the lycanthrope or Werewolf. Writer-director Sean Ellis spins an epic yarn within the primordial ooze of one of the classic monsters. The result is Eight for Silver, a perfectly beautiful, overlong overture to one of the icons of horror cinema.
After the skirmish between the weak and powerful in rural England, the descendants of the rich venture off into the countryside only to come upon cursed relics. As kids will be kids, they don’t exactly share what happened. That is until a nebulous evil begins to attack the townsfolk. Enter John McBride (Boyd Holbrook) the local pathologist. McBride decides to peruse the mystery of the recurring attacks and perceives a far more sinister creature than a mere animal. All of this culminates in the revelation of an unspeakable evil based on greed and misunderstanding as many are. The result is a sumptuously produced werewolf origin story that is pretty to look at, occasionally engaging, and ultimately as refined as the Bourgeois it means to spurn.
The production design here is off the charts. With a palpable sense of humidity and cold in the dark chambers of the estates to the marshy countryside that is shrouded in mystery. There were echoes of Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon and its reliance on candlelight and “natural” lighting to create an impermeable mood and sense of dread. Still, though, we needed a compelling enough throughline to keep us engaged and invested. Here we don’t. Instead of a clever narrative or sense of mystery, we have the resignation of the inevitable against perfect production.
Eight for Silver is a very good piece of work. Ellis has created an epic tale that far exceeds the confines of its narrative reaching into our common folklore. Yet, for all that it has gong for it there is a sense of paced terror which essentially robs the film of its teeth, so-to-speak. I do not mean to poo-poo the fine work on display here, but even Copolla’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula had a mystic sense of wonder and suspense.
The story beats are here, the performances are wonderful, and even the moments of horror and gore rise to the occasion. Yet for all the clammy atmosphere, the deconstructed lore, and the villainization of the powerful I was still left in need of a good scare. This one is pretty and entertaining, but not much else.
7 out 0f 10
|Eight for Silver
||No Trailer Available
||1 Hr. 55 Mins.