East End Film Festival: God’s Acre – Review

My boyfriend and I live in a three bedroom house with private garden, separate dining room, two bathrooms and a loft conversion. The rent is incredibly reasonable and our landlords are genuinely caring and helpful. You might even say they are like parents to us! You might even say it’s my parent’s house! It is my parent’s house. They are in the bedroom next to ours. I still get told off if I don’t do the washing up or if I use up all the hot water. Which is entirely fair I might add! For I am the wrong side of twenty-five, still living at home. With my boyfriend. And our two chinchillas. And our parrot. I am very lucky for their continued hospitality.

I would be even luckier if getting a property wasn’t so fucking hard. Am I right?? Because I know I am not a minority here. Getting on that ladder is near impossible these days, and renting has it’s own host of problems. My boyfriend and I watch Grand Designs, salivating at the chance to buy a hovel and do it up right. Live the dream etc etc. Home sweet home.

But this dream rarely becomes reality and a man’s castle can also become his prison. God’s Acre is described as a horror movie and, the scary thing is, a lot of the horror is far too real. Minus the murders, I can totally relate to Malcolm’s situation. Stuck in a sort of limbo, he is trapped physically and mentally. The hole seems too deep, so you just try to hide from the issue. For Malcolm (played by Matthew Jure), this escalates further. Agoraphobia develops. Drinking becomes routine. Paranoia and insomnia add weight to his fears. Anxiety prevents him from tackling that never ending to do list. I mean, where do you start? Just after this drink.

Throughout the film, Malcolm refers back to the recession as the root of his problems. The collapse of the property market, resulting in being left with a derelict house in a bad neighbourhood – it is a paradox that this property is at once his only hope for escape and the very place he is trying to escape from. As we watch, however, we realise that all this is masking a much greater problem. His psychological wellbeing becomes more and more questionable and he becomes a paradox himself. The victim and the villain. It is complex and far reaching. There is no clear happy ending to hope for. Which is lucky because…spoilers.

The filming mimics a lot of Malcolm’s mental state. The scenes are mostly dark to reflect his depressed state. Where rare instances of light are used, it is when Malcolm believes he is acting with clarity or gaining some momentum in his life. There isn’t a clear timeline to follow; time is sped up, slowed down and illustrated often using flash-forwards or flashbacks. The story rapidly changes from dream to reality, making us question whether what we are being shown is real. If you have ever suffered from anxiety or panic, parts of this hit uncomfortably close to home. It is an excellent portrayal of a deteriorating mental well-being. J.P. Davidson’s experience as an editor really allows him to showcase his talent in this, his directional debut.

Other characters seem recognise Malcolm isn’t healthy, but none of them takes it seriously until it’s too late. The police literally write him off as a ‘nut job’. His only so-called friend adds to the immense pressure he feels. Only the nurse next door seems to realise that this is a man who needs help, but even she is too little, too late. Malcolm is haunted by the ghosts that lurk in his walls – perhaps if someone had taken him seriously, he could have been saved. Home sweet home.


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