Wales | 2018 | D: William McGregor
Sometimes a horror movie doesn’t need a scary villain or jump scares. It doesn’t need a lot of blood and gore, or sex. It just needs a solid story and the ability to create tension, drama and suspense for the audience. This is exactly what Gwen does.
The movie follows our title character, who lives on a farm with her mother and youngest sister, as they struggle to fight against the impending progression of industry on their quaint part of the world – the hills of Wales.
In the strictest sense of the word, the ‘monster’ in this movie is suitably apt. It’s not a demon, a zombie or a possessed doll – it’s a rich business man. A top hat, fancy clothes and the ability to buy people to do his dirty work. It’s what makes him a monster, not his grotesque appearance.
His quarry wants Gwen’s family farm. They won’t sell – they’re waiting for the patriarch of the family to return home from war. They observe other farms around them disappearing – with livestock being slaughtered and families being killed. And all of this under the watchful eye of religion.
Gwen is a girl far beyond her age. She’s not only an older sister, but a mother figure. When Gwen’s mother becomes ill, she turns into a carer and takes responsibilities on herself to ensure the family doesn’t starve. Unbeknownst to her, its all for nothing. The quarry master always gets what he wants in the end.
The movie is beautifully shot. The director has allowed shots to linger for a few frames longer than most would, truly allowing him to capture both the beauty and industrialisation of the Welsh hillside. Eleanor Worthington-Cox does an outstanding job as Gwen, truly encapsulating the character. With any luck her talent will lead to more starring roles.
It’s a short movie, clocking in at just under 85 minutes. The pace is steady with a long lead up to the final third that truly shows the despair and horror of Gwen’s world as stark truths manifest themselves. Definitely a movie for a horror lover wanting something different.