It's not a secret, I love Folk Horror with all my macabre little heart. Folklore itself is considered by some to just be a pretty collection of fairy tales and superstition, but when you really start to look into it, it will show you it's beautiful dark side. And I'm not alone in enjoying Folk Horror. Recent years have bought us a plethora of excellent books and films that delve into the darker side of older beliefs and stories.
Released on Amazon Prime this April, The Droving is a beautiful example of one of these films. It's bought to us by Rubicon Films, the same production company that bought us 2017's Hex, and is well worth a watch.
After returning home from a stint in the military, Martin is in search of his little sister, Megan, who has mysteriously gone missing. Looking for clues, he meets with a friend of his sisters, Tess. Through her he discovers that she and Megan were meant to meet up at a local festival, The Droving, but it was likely here that his sister went missing. Tess also tells him about a group of suspicious outsiders who have been visiting the festival and taking it a little too seriously. With not much else to go on, Martin heads out to find them and through them, finds out that a sinister ritual is going to be taking place. But what does this ritual have to do with Megan, what happened to her and, more importantly, what will become of Martin?
About the Film
A visually beautiful film, the shots of the vast Lake District countryside reveal its stark beauty, giving it a perfect lonely and isolated vibe. The soundtrack is haunting, but the movie doesn't rely on it for the whole runtime, instead relying on everyday background noises, silence and the actors themselves to slowly build up the tension to the point where you could cut it with a knife.
Speaking of the actors, a strong performance all round from all. The main character, Daniel Oldroyd as Martin, is pleasant and likeable, but with a cold edge to him. As an ex-soldier and interrogator for the British army, he's unafraid to take risks and go to great lengths to get the information he needs. He acts as our guide into this world of Folk Horror and we uncover the mystery alongside him, like an invisible side-kick. And we want Martin to succeed in avenging his sister, although an eye for an eye probably isn't something kind-hearted Meg would have approved of. His fellow actors play characters who are well rounded and individual, making them feel like real people. And none of them are quite what they seem.
The festival itself, The Droving, is glowing, full of light and warmth which belies it's more sinister side. It very much reminds me of the real-life traditional and pagan celebrations that we see throughout the year here in the UK, including Penrith's Winter Droving festival, which is where I assume it was filmed and takes some inspiration from.
All in all, The Droving is a treasure of a film, and a breath of fresh air when some movies have a nasty habit of taking a little too much inspiration from The Wicker Man. I heartily recommend it to all lovers of folklore and horror, but also to those new to the genre.
Viewable at: Amazon Prime
Director: George Popov
Writers: George Popov, Johnathan Russell
Starring: Daniel Oldroyd, Suzie Fances Garton, Amy Tyger
Supporting Cast: Bobby Robertson, John Lawrence Risdon, John Love, Alexander King
Runtime: 1 hour and 20 minutes
Have you already seen The Droving? Let me know what you think in the comments section below or by tagging me in a post on Twitter. If you haven't seen the movie yet, then don't forget you can view it on Amazon, and it's well worth a watch. So grab yourself a nice drink and some popcorn, and snuggle down for a movie night!