Saturday, July 11, 2020

Use of Tropes: Sawney: Flesh of Man

Also known as Lord of Darkness, this was a 2012 feature directed by Ricky Wood and concentrates on surviving members of Sawney Bean’s clan.

You are probably aware that Sawney Bean was, allegedly, the head of a 16th century Scottish clan said to have cannibalised over 1000 victims in a 25-year period. Though whether this is legend, fact or partly factual is contested. This film takes the premise that it was fact and that one member of the Bean clan escaped punishment and that his descendants continued the practice through to the modern day.

There is a prologue set in 1990, with a doctor brought into the highlands, and into a lair behind a waterfall, to deliver a baby. The mother chained, covered in sores and with sackcloth hiding her face (though she is clearly violent and grunting monstrously). You can guess the fate of the doctor. Jump forward to the modern day and English reporter Hamish MacDonald (Samuel Feeney) is investigating the murder of his ex’s sister and generally annoying the police.

close up shot
As things turn out she was killed by Sawney (David Hayman), as this member of the clan is called, and he hunts in a taxi – picking up the vulnerable and taking them to the highland lair. In the lair, mother is locked behind an iron door, but the reason for this article are the two sons (I guess) who aid him. They are an inbred family, it is clear, and it is in their looks that I saw our vampire connection – with long sharp talon like nails, sharp teeth and faces deformed in such a way as to remind someone of Vamp face in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Their eyes are unnaturally pale. 

kung fu?
They are also highly acrobatic and fight as though they were born knowing kung fu (perhaps another Buffy influence) and they tend to use scythes as a weapon of choice. One thing that struck me was the fact that they move through the city, when taken there by Sawney, menacing in their hoodies. This wearing of hoodies as a modern and inner-city menace (despite their rural origin/home) kind of connects them textually to films such as Citadel. Other than this we have, of course, cannibalism and a lot of tying that into religious mantra, centred around communion (so both flesh eating and blood drinking), but other than talking of everlasting life there is no indication that these are anything other than mortal and it is their looks (with their mother being similar when we see her) that is the vampire trope it relies on.

The imdb page is here.

On DVD @ Amazon US

On Demand @ Amazon UK

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