Director: Ross Shepherd
Writers: Ross Shepherd, Jamie Tighe
Stars: David Keyes, Amy Comper, Stewart Tighe
No-budget British films are a mixed bunch. Occasionally, very occasionally, they’re brilliant. More often, though, they find it difficult to override their humble origins. The acting is slightly off, the story too languid and unfocused, the cinematography lacks a certain polish. With a bit more money they could have been a Shifty or a Citadel; as it is they’re Lord of Tears or Outpost 11, worthy films that can’t quite add up to the sum of their ambitions. The trouble is that over the last few years there seems to be less and less money floating around in the industry, so the number of low-budget films seems to have decreased in proportion to the number of no-budget films. Of the eighty or so horror films produced in Britain last year, almost none of them had the budget of even a Dog Soldiers or a Creep.
Low is a fairly good example of these films. Good in that it exemplifies many of their strengths and failures, and good in that it’s one of the more interesting and better made of its type. The story begins with Alice (Amy Comper), a young woman in an abusive relationship who heads into the countryside to bury the body of the infant son her partner has just shaken to death. There she bumps into the bizarre Edward (David Keyes), a former Doctor who has fallen into deep depression following the death of his wife and child in a car accident. Edward kidnaps Alice, revealing that he’s just killed two men at a local station, although what he intends to do with her is never made clear. The two of them wander through the woods, Alice repeatedly tries to escape (repeatedly trips up while doing so) and a soporific local (Stewart Tighe, the writer’s dad) bumps into them now and then.
Coming in at seventy minutes. Low feels like a stretch, essentially a thirty minute piece puffed out to give it a theatrical running time. The story is interesting enough, being as much a depiction of depression – as is implied by the title – as the pseudo torture-horror film it easily could have been. But it all smacks of a student production, from its emphasis on ‘realism’ to the characters (or caricatures) who seem to have been modeled on a Mike Leigh film. Given that it was made for £1,000 it’s a considerable achievement, but it just leaves me wishing that it had a bit more budget behind it and a bit more control in the scripting and direction.