Snatching the odd quiet moment at locations in and around his home town of Stafford and with a largely unknown cast, director Iain Ross McNamee’s debut feature, The Singing Bird Will Come was shot, as he put it ‘on a nano budget’.
Gillian Harker plays Lauren, young women at an emotional crisis point in her life. Following the break up of a long-term relationship and the loss of her London based archivist job, Lauren moves back to her hometown on the death of her mother. Things are grim. Dad seeks comfort in booze, little brother stays out all night and the only job Lauren can get is cleaning in the local restaurant. And then there are the perfectly putrid small town girls Lauren left behind when she went to university. They are delighted at the prospect of Lauren getting busy with the Dyson when all the diners are at home in bed.
On the plus side there is the local history society where Lauren builds a relationship with James (Charles O’Neill) the former owner of the restaurant over a shared interest in the local witch trials.
So Lauren settles into her new world of small town petty jealousy and drudgery, but then things start getting weird as working late into the night she glimpses a dark presence in the restaurant and then the photo of a former waitress, who vanished without a trace, turns up when Lauren is cleaning the kitchen. No prizes for guessing that Lauren is about to fall into a maelstrom of suspicion, violence and terror as she attempts to unravel the conundrum of the girl’s disappearance.
Clearly influenced by contemporary Japanese and Korean shockers, along with classic British Chillers like Jack Claytons’s The Innocents and the BBC’s adaptations of the ghost stories of MR James, The Singing Bird Will Come has some genuine jump out of your skin moments. The frights are managed by deft camera work, sound and film editing with the result that the violence when it comes is all the more shocking.
For a nano budget movie The Singing Bird Will Come is a remarkable piece of work. It has the look of a far more expensive production and the cast are really excellent. I give The Singing Bird Will Come a big 555/666
The Singing Bird Will Come can be downloaded here. Price £1.99 rent, £3.99 buy.
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The restaurant featured in the movie is the 16th Century Soup Kitchen Restaurant at the top of Stafford’s Church Lane. If you are in the area why not drop in for some home-baked goodies.