Review: Jennifer Sheridan’s Slow-Burning Dramatic Horror ROSE – A LOVE STORY

3.5 out of 5 stars

A film about a couple self-isolating in the countryside because one of them has a virus. The need to wear masks and stay away from others – this is not the plot of a hastily shot COVID-19 drama, it’s the rough outline for Jennifer Sheridan’s slow-burning dramatic horror, Rose – A Love Story (which finished production in early 2020).

Starring real-life couple Sophie Rundle and Matt Stokoe (who wrote the screenplay), Rose – A Love Story sees Rose and Sam hiding-out in the Welsh countryside because she’s suffering from a from of vampirism. Sam goes about the daily chores of hunting and harvesting food from a small holding of land and Rose spends her time inside their small cottage. The couple’s solitude is broken when Amber (Olive Gray) stumbles into their lives. 

Expertly crafted, Rose is a well paced piece which has elements of Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend. That’s another vampire tale where the minutiae of daily life is a large part of the story and the horror elements are left slowing bubbling in the background. In fact, Stokoe and Sheridan hardly reference the horror aspects until the climax and they allow the audience to fill in the blanks. 

As you would expect, Sophie Rundle and Matt Stokoe share great chemistry as the couple dealing with an unknown illness and you really care for their characters and predicament. Stokoe’s script is sparse but their shorthand lets you understand their plight. This was a love story after all. Martyna Knitter’s cinematography is also great, brilliantly realising the snowy Welsh countryside. You can really feel the cold. 

Rose – A Love Story is a wonderfully crafted genre piece which has the potential to draw in an audience that isn’t normally attracted to horror movies and also those looking for a vampire film with a difference.