Though October is usually the month of the horror film, Southend-On-Sea choose to honour the genre in the truly dark and upsetting month that is January. Two weekends of every January are devoted to their annual horror film festival – Horror-On-Sea. The event sees genre films, long and short, from all over the globe screened to a group of hardcore horror fans. This year’s festival is nearly over (the final films screen on Sunday 28th January), but we were able to catch one of the final films, The Redeeming.
Directed by Brian Barnes, and starring Tracy Ann Wood and Ryan Wichert, The Redeeming is a micro-budget British independent feature set within the psychological thriller genre. Wood and Wichert play Joyce and John, two strangers whom must weather a stormy night together. Filmed during the terrible flooding in Somerset back in 2014, the filmmakers channelled their actual isolation and claustrophobia into the film.
Joyce lives alone and is, from the outset, clearly a little off-kilter. Her peaceful, reclusive lifestyle is disturbed when, during an almighty storm, she answers a knocking on her door. There she finds enigmatic young man John on her doorstep, shivering and injured. Reluctantly Joyce brings the strange man into her home and tends to his wounds. Over the course of the night the two begin to build a rapport and it is soon clear that they may share a dark connection.
The Redeeming is an intimate two-piece drama that has the viewer switching sides as they try to guess where the film will develop. It might be free of gore, but there’s a plentiful dark current that will keep genre fans entertained. The film also offers an interesting exploration of mental illness and the bonds that we make.