A man traumatized by death finds himself on the brink of madness in this intense thriller.
When his wife Rachel has died in a drowning accident, Eric Black is mourning and is feeling severely depressed. His relationship with his mother has become estranged as she breathes a sigh of relief, knowing that she never liked Rachel and is somewhat happy she is dead. This puts Eric on a downward spiral until he sees an ad for a shepherd on a remote island off Scotland. To try to get over Rachel’s passing, he decides to apply the job and gets hired.
The half-sighted Fisher, who gave Eric the job, gives him some simple rules as he will be living in a house located on the island. As Eric starts his job, he begins to get plagued with visions and nightmares involving Rachel and the events surround her death. When he sees his mother again during a break, she confronts him about learning that Rachel was unfaithful to Eric. This leads to Eric having more nightmares about both Rachel and his mother. This leads Eric to the point where he must find himself and come to grips with reality before he goes off the deep end for good.
From the mind of Russell Owen, this film is a character study involving grieving, depression, and ultimately guilt in the mind of a man whose lost his wife. The film is one of those films that rarely do not have a moment of happiness, but rather has a somber mood that just goes from depressing to at times, horrific as there are nightmares involved. Despite the somber tone of the film, this is proof that sometimes, a dark film of this nature can churn out a great performance from its lead star.
And that is the case with Tom Hughes in the central role of Eric Black, a grieving husband who finds solace in the mountains to help get over his wife’s passing. However, instead of finding himself in the trip, he finds himself going down a spiral of madness. From receiving calls from Kate Dickie’s mysterious boss Fisher, who seems to be more than she lets on as the film progresses; to his constant nightmares, Hughes churns out a wonderful performance as someone on the brink of madness.
Aside from Hughes, as mentioned, Kate Dickie is great as the one-eyed Fisher, who at first glance seems like she may seem more than let on with her look. She has the look of a horror antagonist but instead of stirring up the scares in a physical presence, it is more of a vocal presence when she calls Eric that the intentions slowly begin to reveal themselves. Veteran Greta Scacchi is excellent in the role of Eric’s mother, who constantly berates him for marrying Rachel (played in flashbacks by Gaia Weiss), who is revealed to have been unfaithful, forcing Eric to compare her to his own father during Eric and his mother’s second meeting. The final ten minutes of the film are perhaps shocking but do bring an end to the madness…or does it?
Shepherd is a very somber film that despite its tone, churns out a very emotional and powerful performance by Tom Hughes. If atmospheric horror is your cup of tea, you might enjoy this one.
WFG RATING: B
Saban Films presents a Golden Crab Film Production in association with Kindred Film. Director: Russell Owen. Producers: Sam Orams, Russell Owen, Aslam Parvez, and Karim Tshibangu. Writer: Russell Owen. Cinematography: Richard Stoddard. Editing: Jim Page and Christopher Thornton.
Cast: Tom Hughes, Kate Dickie, Greta Scacchi, Gaia Weiss.
The film was released in theaters on May 6th with a digital release on May 10th.