Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Claire – review

Director: Mike Booth

Release date: 2011

Contains spoilers

This was a film I found available to watch for free on the net and, I understand, it was made for a budget of just £250. Normally that might be telling but, in this case, what filmmaker Mike Booth has managed to create is rather impressive.

That’s not to suggest its perfect but it introduces us to a very unusual take on the vampire myth – a cannibalistic take, which suggests why it originally had the title Kuru, a degenerative neurological disease transmitted by prions and primarily transmitted through funerary cannibalism.

preparing the nursery
It is shot in black and white, set in the UK and begins as Claire (Carol Roache) is painting a mural of a tree in a nursery, she is heavily pregnant. Her boyfriend, Ethan (Joseph Curdy), comes in and begins to speak about the possibility of flying soon after the birth. He is suggesting they go out to California, where his parents are, as there is a free slot available at a wedding function location – his parents will pay for the wedding (we later hear). Claire is perhaps not as enamoured with the idea as he is – and we get the feeling that all is perhaps not well in the relationship. After he leaves the room she stands and notices blood – she is having a miscarriage.

parting ways
It is three months later and he is travelling to the States but is concerned about leaving her in the state she is in. He has spent the time since the miscarriage sleeping in the spare room, she barely changes her clothes and is clearly depressed. However she insists that she needs the time and actually insists he doesn’t keep phoning her. As the film develops we discover that she has had a full hysterectomy. We meet some of her neighbours and one, Helen (Sue Marshall), calls to return a didgeridoo that belonged to Claire’s father (it is his house she has inherited). Apparently he was a bit of an amateur explorer.

the seed
Not knowing what to do with it, she decides to place it in the loft and when up there she finds an elaborately carved and bound box. She takes it downstairs and opens it, there is soil inside and in the soil is… something. It was organic, probably a seed or pod, and reminiscent in some ways of a horse chestnut – I say that as Ian had collected horse chestnuts and put the conkers round the house to keep spiders away. She cuts into the pod and a dark liquid gets onto the knife blade and so she licks it… it tastes awful. That night she is coughing in her sleep and, when she wakes, she vomits (what may be blood). Her stomach is growling and she has no voice. She tries eating various things but everything makes her vomit, she calls the doctors but can’t get the receptionist (Marian Booth) to understand her.

the box
She falls down the stairs and is knocked out and, when she comes round, she tries to eat dog food – to no avail. It is then implied that she eats the dog. We cut into a memory of her with Ethan, in happier days, but the memory ends with him beating her. The film has a number of twisted memories interjected through it but I suspected from the get go that they were not necessarily accurate. The film is deliberately vague as to whether she had been a victim of domestic violence or whether these are fevered dreams as her mind and body snaps.

Lovecraft as a weapon
Her neighbour Alan (Malcolm Summers) glances through the window as he passes and spots her on the floor. He goes to help her and is stabbed for his trouble. Claire eats flesh, we see her cook an organ, she also loses her hair and takes to wearing shades. She covers the windows over with fabric. As the film progresses we have her kidnapping passing Jehovah’s Witnesses (and the fact that she clobbers them with a hardback Lovecraft tome entitled Necronomicon was a nice touch) and dealing with burglars. We gain evidence towards the end of the film that the seed she found is definitely the cause of the vampirism and, indeed, a bush carrying more seeds grows from where she buried a victim.

Carol Roache as Claire
The film’s pacing is a tad on the slow side, but Booth uses that to tantalise us with glimpses of what may or may not have been. I think the leads held their parts very well, especially as neither have extensive film credits on IMDb. Carol Roache in particular had a lot of work to do, especially as there was a lot of dialogue free scenes. The character developed an interesting tremor in her legs, which I assume was significant to the kuru title as tremors can be a symptom.

This is one you can check for yourself, as it is over at Vimeo. The pace might put some off but I think it is a stick with it film. 6 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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