Indie Gems: The Living and the Dead

Does anything ever go right in a huge creepy mansion?

"Ex-Lord" Donald Brocklebank (the late Roger Lloyd Pack) owns a sprawling mansion that's falling apart. On top of that, he has to take care of his bed ridden wife, Nancy (Kate Fahy) and his mentally ill son, James. (Leo Bill) When Donald is called away to settle his bankruptcy, he hires a nurse to look after Nancy. James isn't very pleased with that, and is determined to take care of his mother himself. He locks the nurse out, and stops taking his own medication. Of course, everything goes down hill.

This might be one of the most effective horror movies I've ever seen. Nearly everything about it was hard to watch. There's no supernatural forces here. It's all about mental illness, it's difficulty, and what happens when it's not managed. The film handles that subject with care. Leo Bill could've easily given a disrespectful performance here, but he doesn't. Fahy and Pack are also very strong in their parts. Fahy has the most uncomfortable role as a mother who doesn't want her son to care for her. And Pack wears the burden of all of this on his face so clearly.

The way the film is shot however, won't be for everyone. Since the house they live in his so big, a lot of the scenes of James going from one part to another are sped up quickly with loud music. They also don't tell a linear story, and we see glimpses of the future in direct contrast with what's happening "now." Because of that, it's easy to guess how the films ends. 

Grade: B-

Watched on: Netflix DVD.

Memorable Quote: "I just wanted you to trust me." - James (Leo Bill)


  1. Great review! I didn't love this movie, but I agree with you that the performances were terrific.

    1. I don't think I loved it either, it was just very effective as a horror movie.


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