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MOVIES (LFF 2022): Enys Men - Review

Back in 2019, Mark Jenkin's Bait blew me away when I saw it - it's still my favourite film of that year - a rich commentary on rural Cornish life set in a small; deprived town looking at the influx of second homers and a direct commentary on Brexit. I visited the area where it was filmed post lockdown and it felt surreal to see it in colour after watching the whole film in black and white; so, so jarring - and it feels just as odd watching a Mark Jenkin film in colour itself. But Enys Men is worthy of the switch, a classic 70s folk horror that if you'd have told me came out in say, 1974 I would have believed you - it captures the atmosphere absolutely superbly of a desolate former mining home that has long since been abandoned; presided over by one woman - a volunteer studying flowers above a local mine.

Enys Men is a vivid, nightmarish descent into the uncanny - nothing is conventional but it's Mark Jenkin, if you expected conventional you'd be disappointed - there was a moment in the film where it froze and you're trying to figure out whether or not it's a projector failure or a stylistic choice - we never got that answer - Jenkin captures the desolate wasteland of the former mine superbly; the haunted ghosts that inhabit it give it a searingly bold visual touch - non narrative in a way that will almost certainly confuse even the most shameless horror expert. There's body horror here - Mary Woodvine's performance betrays a sense of unease and unescapable dread as the flashing images confuse her character as much as the audience - avoiding just being a nostalgic ode to the folk horror of Quatermass and the Pit, it instead brings something new to a well trodden genre.

The colour grading here really immerses you in the atmosphere of the film - it feels like a tremendous success considering the small, stripped down scale of it all. Everything works in its favour - the accomplishment of editing to strike fear into the soul works wonders and emphasises that this craft is as important to filmmaking as the actual filming itself - largely dialogue free, only a few characters feature - it's not an easy film to embrace or even comprehend but you'll only be richer for having experienced it.

The perfect morning screening to be woken up for at 9:40 in the morning - the atmosphere outside in Leicester Square and the cold morning air really made this film work wonders.