Tuesday, August 13, 2019

In short: Occult Angel (2018)

Film student Andy Roberts accompanies and films his landlord and sometimes boss Jack Angel, an occultist with mediumistic abilities, on some house calls in their home town of Bath. Occult activity in the city has been increasing in the last couple of days, and there is indeed something very nasty afoot, connected to the symbol of a horned snake and buried beneath the layers of history modern Bath is built upon.

This one’s a very indie outing directed by Roberts, shot in a POV style - with some inserts that are meant as build-up to the final act - as the only proper way to tell this particular story without a couple of millions as a budget. Even though there are certainly obvious flaws to the film -  like camera work that’s a bit too jittery, acting that  often feels more like good amateur work than strictly professional acting, some weird pacing hiccups - that’ll probably make it unwatchable for some, I found myself rather taken with the whole affair. In part because the script does a more than decent attempt at constructing an occult mystery surrounding Bath’s past and present, in part because most of Roberts’s directorial and stylistic choices demonstrate a good sense of how to build a dark and creepy mood on the very cheap.

Mostly, though, I’m a sucker for films that use the local as well as Occult Angel does, mixing the true and a fictional history of Bath to construct a horror tale whose use of a layered past is highly specific to its place, resonating with the very British horror subgenre of folk horror (and my beloved cosmic horror) by suggesting the very real and malignant influence of a buried past on a present that has pointedly attempted to forget as much about it as possible, leaving it to the outsiders and the weirdoes to care.

Which is and does quite a bit more than your usual contemporary POV film about some crap haunting that turns out to be caused by crap demons who like to follow (crap) screeching people through the woods, so is it any wonder I really rather liked Occult Angel?

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