The Shout (1978)
The Shout (1978) is a curious film containing a story within a story. Based upon a short story by I Claudius creator and war poet Robert Graves, the film opens at a cricket match in the grounds of an upmarket lunatic asylum. Robert Graves (Tim Curry) joins Crossley (Alan Bates) in the scoring hut, where Crossley opens up and tells him a story.
Fading to the sand dunes of the North Devon coast, we meet Anthony and Rachel Fielding (John Hurt and Susannah York). Living in a dilapidated farm house, the Fielding’s rural idyll is shattered by the arrival of Crossley who has spent 18 years living with the native people of Australia. As Crossley’s story unfolds, he reveals that an Aboriginal shaman has taught him how to project the legendary death shout. Anthony, a composer working on producing new sounds with random objects is curious to hear the shout, so Crossley advises to stop his ears with wax and takes him out for a morning walk.
Needless to say that the killer shout offs a couple of gulls, some sheep and the local shepherd. Rachel falls heavily under Crossley’s influence and its up to Anthony to find a way to claw her back without getting shouted at.
The Shout is a pretty intense movie, as you would expect from its heavyweight British cast, which also includes Robert Stephens and a young Jim Broadbent. The actors are a joy to watch: Hurt does his tortured, wronged against soul thing, while Bates is splendidly malevolent and York does the full transformation from strong sensible woman to lustful and simpering plaything as she is drawn into Crossley’s enchantment.
The script veers on just the right side of the then fashionable Australian outback mysticism not to be daft, and the location shooting in and around North Devon’s Saunton Sands and Braunton Burrows evokes the same sort of dreamy wilderness quality that Nicolas Roeg brought to Walkabout (1971).
Trivia: The musical score is by Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks of Genesis and is fortunately a Phil Collins-free zone.
An intriguing paranormal mystery with a classy cast I give The Shout a 555/666.
The Shout has been reissued on Blu Ray by Network as part of their The British Film series price £14.99.
As usual, there are some pretty good extras with the Blu-Ray disk:
- Audio commentary by Kim Newman and Stephen Jones
- Booklet by Kim Newman
- Theatrical trailer
- Image galleries
Review by Simon Ball
Connect with Simon: @RealShipsCook or here.