Review

The Black Shuck (Josh Trett)

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Folk Horror has long had a strange allure for me. Perhaps it was that first late-night showing of The Wicker Man, sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s on BBC 2, with an introduction by Alex Cox (would somebody please recommission Moviedrome – also I’m free to present), that first pushed me towards this oddly British sub-genre. I wasn’t the only one to be affected as poor old Edward Woodward came to a fiery end as over the past 30 years The Wicker Man has gone from cult oddity to be acclaimed as a Horror great. The other films of the classic triptych that initiated the genre, Witchfinder General (which I wrote about here) and Blood on Satan’s Claw are equally worth seeking out and set out various depiction of Britain’s rural past. More recent additions, Kill List, The Witch and Apostle, for example, have revived Folk Horror and drawn a new audience for the older films.

Given this burgeoning interest I was therefore delighted to be contacted recently by Norfolk based film-maker Josh Trett about his short film The Black Shuck – Josh had listened to the James Bond Radio podcast I’m in (poor fool) and noticed my name check of Folk Horror. “Would I be interested in checking it out?” he asked. Well I did and I’m glad to say that’s he crafted a thoughtful meditation on grief using the Norfolk legend of a demonic black dog, the eponymous Black Shuck, as a way to explore the impact of the loss of a child. Despite a low budget, funded through Indigogo, Josh’s film looks and sounds good and is anchored by a great performance by Rebecca Grant who skilfully communicates a mother’s devastation, despite remaining wordless for most of the running time.

What’s more the short suggests the flexibility of Folk Horror as a genre to reflect and comment on different part of our lives. Here folk-belief becomes a channel to represent a staggering loss, reminding us of the power myths and legends have in helping us understand and manage our own lives. Which quite frankly is pretty damn impressive in 12 minutes.

It’s available right now on Amazon, and is definitely worth your time.

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