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  Shout, The Keep It Down
Year: 1978
Director: Jerzy Skolimowski
Stars: Alan Bates, Susannah York, John Hurt, Robert Stephens, Tim Curry, Julian Hough, Carol Drinkwater, John Rees, Jim Broadbent, Susan Wooldridge, Nick Stringer, Colin Higgins, Peter Benson
Genre: Horror, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Robert Graves (Tim Curry) arrives in a sleepy English village for a cricket match, but this is distinguished by the fact that it's being played between the locals and the inmates of the mental asylum there. Entering the building, Robert looks around for someone to ask advice of, but there's only a young woman who is acting strangely; nevertheless he follows her outside and is soon met by one of the doctors (Robert Stephens) who tells him he will be keeping the score along with a patient, Charles Crossley (Alan Bates). Crossley turns out to be a well-dressed chap, but odd in demeanour and as the match commences he begins a story that may or may not be true...

The Graves in this film is supposed to be the Graves who wrote the original story, also the author of I, Claudius, an example of the film's nebulous attitude to fact and fiction. Ostensibly a horror film about a man who can kill by shouting, it's less scary and more weird, creating a dreamlike atmosphere that unusually fails to lapse into the nightmarish, it's simply curious. The story Crossley tells involves two people we've seen in passing during the introduction, so are they the same as those in his narrative? It's difficult to tell.

That couple, within the story at any rate, are Anthony Fielding (John Hurt) and his wife Rachel (Susannah York), a musician and his wife living in a farmhouse in the wilds of North Devon. Anthony is working on a concept album made up of unusual sounds, indeed he has his own version of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in operation at his personal studio, and he passes the time recording bees trapped in jam jars and whatnot as fodder for his magnum opus. In addition to that, he also plays organ for the local church, that is when he gets there in time for the beginning of the services.

Who should interrupt this countryside idyll but a tall dark stranger, Crossley as it turns out, putting himself in his own tale. This makes you wonder if the tale he is telling is true, as he appears to be the perfect candidate for entry into an asylum. He claims to have lived in Australia for almost two decades, and while there he lived with Aborigines, marrying one of the local women and learning their magic. However, he also claims to have killed his children by his wife, but according to him it's OK since this is part of Aborigine tradition. Rachel doesn't like him from first sight, but Anthony humours him, even when their guest smashes a wine glass by creating a tone around the rim of another glass with a wet finger.

But what fascinates Anthony the most is Crossley's claims to kill with his voice. Funnily enough, it transpires that he's telling the truth when he takes his host out to the most remote part of the surrounding area he can find, allows him to plug his ears, and then in the film's most striking moment lets out a deafening roar that knocks Anthony unconscious - accidentally killing a hapless shepherd and his flock who they hadn't noticed. All very well, but can the Crossley at the cricket match do the same, or is he a creative liar? Director Jerzy Skolimowski, who adapted the script with Michael Austin, appears to enjoy subverting the cosy Englishness of his setting and the sanctity of marriage as well, when Rachel falls under Crossley's spell, but the whole thing is so enigmatic it's difficult to read, which will probably leave most viewers puzzled. It's not unentertaining, though. Music by Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford of Genesis.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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