Fantasia Festival Review: THE CURSE OF AUDREY EARNSHAW Walks Familiar But Intriguing Territory

3 out of 5 stars

The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw is a curious horror film from writer-director Thomas Robert Lee. It’s a well acted genre piece which starts slow but it gains momentum as it goes along, offering-up enough intrigue to keep its audience interested. 

In a community blighted by death and famine, Agatha Earnshaw (Catherine Walker) keeps her 17 year-old daughter Audrey (Jessica Reynolds) hidden. However, the girl slowly begins to unleash her hidden powers against the people who have persecuted her mother. 

With similarities to genre titles such as The Witch, The Village, Carrie and even Rosemary’s Baby, The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw has a lot of elements that you may have seen before. Lee’s film however, works best when it strikes-out with something original. The relationship between the Earnshaw women is well defined and both Walker and Reynolds give strong performances. The rest of the actors are also good and Sean Mc Ginley adds some gravitas as the town elder attempting to get to the bottom of the unfolding events. 

If the truth be told, I’m quite flummoxed at the creative decision to set the film in 1973, even though the characters and the community are still living like its the 1870s. The idea worked for M.Night Shyamalan’s The Village because it was the sting in that film’s tail, but it’s not really necessary for The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw. It doesn’t detract from Lee’s film, but it doesn’t really add anything either – it’s just strange creative choice. Having said that Lee uses the ‘period setting to his advantage. He cloaks the film in rich atmosphere, presenting a bleak and desolate landscape which is well shot by cinematographer Nick Thomas. 

While it’s not as good as the films it reminds you of, The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw does have enough ingenuity and atmosphere to make it worth your time.