The Cinematic DNA of Enys Men at HOMETom Grieve, Cinema Editor
As Mark Jenkins’ slippery new folk horror hits the big screen this month, the director has reached into his bag of influences and programmed a fascinating new film season. Enys Men (from Fri 13 Jan) is the follow-up to Jenkins’ much-loved drama Bait, which pulled in critics and audiences with its lo-fi black and white 16mm photography, overdubbed sound and keen feeling for its Cornish location, and the pressures affecting the people living there.
Also filmed in Cornwall, his new film has been made in a similar way, and while Enys Men is filmed in colour, its analogue textures and sense of isolated, elliptical horror, make for an even more enigmatic, more beguiling experience. It should come as no surprise then, that the director’s picks for the season of film at HOME are as unconventional as his own work.
Drawing from Enys Men’s 1970s setting, Jenkins writes of his selections, “a number of these films are not films at all, but instead are highly innovative, haunting, weird or eerie, free-form, often experimental, sometimes oblique, yet always uncompromisingly authored productions made for the small screen.”
a number of these films are not films at all, but instead are highly innovative, haunting, weird or eerie, free-form, often experimental, sometimes oblique, yet always uncompromisingly authored productions
Along those lines, the season starts on Thursday 19 January with Colin Eggleston’s 1978 Long Weekend, in which a tumultuous married couple inadvertently leave behind a trail of destruction in the Australian Outback – something which has unwanted repercussions when the local wildlife seeks its own revenge. That film is paired with British Transport Film short, Between the Tides, filmed on the shores of South West England.
If those films connect to Enys Men’s fascination with flora and fauna, then the season’s other double bill on Saturday 21 January draws on its sense of mysticism as Alan Clarke’s Panda’s Fen is joined by Lawrence Gordon Clark’s A Warning to the Curious, originally broadcast as part of the BBC’s A Ghost Story for Christmas series.
The season concludes with Peter Strickland’s 2012 Berberian Sound Studio on Wednesday 25 January. A film whose interest in analogue recording mirrors Jenkins’, this psychological horror follows a sound engineer working on a low budget Italian horror film in the mid-seventies, resisting easy interpretation at every turn – something that is certainly true of Enys Men.