The Droving, 2020 – ★★★★

When it comes to mood,, The Droving has it in spades. I picked it up because it was mentioned as a spiritual sequel to The Wicker Man, my all time favorite folk horror. I will say, I don’t feel that it’s that, because while the spirituality and mythology of the old world exists around the margins of the film, it’s far less overt than the activity on Summerisle. Here the ill defined “festival” and the trappings and traditions that go along with it are backdrop to the desperation of a former soldier to find his sister, but also, seemingly, for forgiveness not only for what he did “over there” but also for not being around when his sister needed him most. He’s taken this quest and the accompanying pain/punishment on himself. Mid-way through the film is a scene of such creeping tension one could compare it to the opening of Inglorious Basterds in its intensity. Overall it’s quite engaging, and the performances are great, especially that of a character we only meet at the end, but I was left feeling a bit short-changed. I wanted more, I wanted to know more, I wanted to experience more. Say, a Christopher Lee explains it all moment. But we’re left just as confused about the truth behind the festival and mythology as our lead is, likely the intent. On that, it’s quite successful. But while it may not be the goofy insanity of The Wicker Man, it’s a compelling and dramatic mood piece that is well worth your watch.

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