4.5 out of 10
Release Date: 4th August 2015 (DVD Premiere)
Cast: Rachel Howells, Lee Bane, Alison Lenihan, Ross Owen Williams, Andy Evason, Bill Bellamy, Lisa Jay Jenkins, Patricia Ford, Linda Bailey, Jessica-Ann Bonner with Kenton Hall and Jared Morgan
Writer: Andrew Jones
Trailer: CONJURING THE DEAD
Director and writer, Andrew Jones (ROBERT THE DOLL) has racked up an impressive number of ‘straight to DVD’ titles in the last 12 months. In fact Mr Jones and his leading actor Lee Bane (THEATRE OF FEAR) may have broken a legitimate Guinness World Record or two. A) Number of films released in a year b) highest number of actor / director collaborations. This is not a criticism but a fact. Lee Bane is a fine actor and I’ll go on record as saying that he’s the best actor at work in low-budget cinema. No matter what his director as thrown at him, he’s grabbed it with both hands and delivered a convincing performance everytime. Whereas he’s probably got to give some of the credit to his director, as Andrew Jones seems to have a knack at picking talented unknowns again and again. On the whole, the director has impressed with his grip on the ‘ghost / horror’ story with interesting scripts that only clang once in a while. The reason, Britpic isn’t having a party every time one of his films comes out is because there’s a problem and it runs through his films like a stick of Blackpool rock. We won’t harp on about it because we discussed the matter when we saw his first film, The Last House on Cemetery Lane, (so read that review) but his locations are dismal and common place and often or not just not spooky enough. This factor put the mockers on The Haunting At The Rectory and to a lesser degree, Poltergeist Activity. If he’s going to continue making scary movies, he needs to work on his scares and atmosphere. At the moment his films are generally on the same scares rate per half-hour as a week of Brookside. This last set of negatives is however eclipsed on the whole by the positives and I always look forward to watching Lee Bane get a good scare every few weeks. So I won’t say great just yet, I’ll say above average and improving all the time.
Conjuring The Dead gives a local Welsh myth a modern spin when our heroine played by Rachel Howells returns to town. She makes friends with her next door neighbour who is a white witch (ALISON LENIHAN – SHOW ME WITCH WAY). Rachel gets disturbed some dreams of witches being burnt and it would seem that there is a real cause for alarm. The town’s first sons are all committing suicide, and the deaths are being investigated by glum local detective played by Lee Bane (his best role yet). The investigation leads him in circles that bring him into contact with a caring priest, played by Jared Morgan (POLTERGEIST ACTIVITY). What connects the ancient witch burning with the strange behaviour around town and at the local Spar Supermarket? Maybe there’s a curse. Will any of our heroes live to tell the tale?
Props also go to Jared Morgan, who appears in this and many of Andrew Jones’ films. When him and Lee Bane share a scene around the halfway mark the film is transported to another realm. One of dramatic quality and extra merit, and it was the first time I wondered what Jones, Bane and Morgan would do if they bailed out of the cheap horror end of the market and tried to do something for a more discerning audience. Maybe it is time for them to put away the toys and try something a little more challenging, seeing as they can’t seem to get their horror films to jangle enough.
The plot for Conjuring The Dead is a bit nonsensical at times, and it does look like it could have been chopped down to a way shorter version (like Alien 3). The heroine has mood swings that Eartha Kitt or Grace Jones would be proud of, so credibility is ditched whenever the main plot kicks in. I was far more interested in the police procedural, which could have been in danger of becoming the Welsh version of Seven… (imagine!) It’s a good job the well-framed and delivered ending kicks ass – this is down to a bold use of music (which would have been at home in a ‘spaghetti western’), a decent dose of slow motion and a big fire.
It’s one of the better Andrew Jones films as it’s nowhere near as set-bound as some of the previous films and it’s got one or two decent set pieces, committed actors and a great score this time.
4.5 out of 10 – A great open ending, an interesting but flawed plot, coupled with great performances by his regulars Lee Bane and Jared Morgan. It feels like it’s got chopped down to a slender running time though, this would have benefitted from a slow build rather than a sprint to get it in at under 80 minutes.
Try ditching the ghost stories next and let’s see what you can do with a drama. We feel that the best is yet to come.
Look below for a second review by Matthew Usher aka Joe Pesci II
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THOSE ACTORS IN BEFORE?
- Lee Bane: Robert 4, Werewolves of the Third Reich, Cabin 28, Robert 3, Robert 2, The Exorcism of Anna Ecklund, Robert, The Haunting At The Rectory, Poltergeist Activity, The Last House on Cemetery Lane, Theatre of Fear, Amityville Asylum, Night of the Living Dead (2012)
- Patricia Ford: Poltergeist Activity
- Linda Bailey: Theatre of Fear
- Jessica-Ann Bonner: The Tombs, Devil’s Tower, Serial Kaller
- Kenton Hall: A Dozen Summers, The Honorable Rebel, Killer/Saurus, Theatre of Fear, Amityville Asylum
- Jared Morgan: Werewolves of the Third Reich, Kill Kane, Poltergeist Activity, Theatre of Fear, The Amityville Asylum