Uncovering Curiosities: Jerzy Skolimowski’s THE SHOUT

This 1978 British film directed by Jerzy Skolimowski stars the wonderful Alan Bates, John Hurt, Susannah York and Tim Curry. The film sounds like an episode of The Twilight Zone (but it’s so much more); on a summers afternoon a group of villagers meet to play a game of cricket with the inmates of a local mental asylum. Tim Curry is asked to keep score during the match and he is paired with Alan Bates (the smartest man in the asylum). During the course of the match Bates’ character suggests that he tell a story and in true flashback fashion we are told the story of The Shout.

Bates’ tale involves his meeting with musician John Hurt and his wife Susannah York. He works his way into their household and one day he tells Hurt that he has the power to kill a man with his shout. Does Hurt believe him? Does he heck and this leads to a series of events that take us to a tragic conclusion.

This is a fascinating film that although often billed as a horror film, is so much more. The acting is first class and Alan Bates is his usual outstanding self in the role of Crossley the mysterious stranger and inmate in the film. Listen up kids, if you haven’t seen this man act go and see him in something- quick. The film is more of a character study than a horror/thriller and some may be put off by it’s slow pace. If you’re looking for jump in your seat scares then look elsewhere, this is a meandering artistic film that has more in common with The Wicker Man (the original, not the Nic Cage bear beater film) and Don’t’ Look Now than The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

The photography in The Shout is magnificent, the film is filled with sumptuous visual imagery and the performances have much to recommend (there’s even a young Jim Broadbent in the cast) so there really is much to recommend in this film. If you love film there this is a must for you. However if you are put off by a slow pace and you like your horror films to have cats jumping out of the shadows then you’d best look elsewhere. A film that you will be thinking about days after you’ve watched it.