Thursday, 4 May 2017

Film Review: BLOOD ON SATAN'S PAW (a.k.a. Scare Bear) (2017)

BLOOD ON SATAN'S PAW (a.k.a. Scare Bear) ** UK 2017 Dir: Richard Mansfield. 70 mins

A modest indie horror from prolific British filmmaker Richard (VIDEO KILLER) Mansfield. It’s set, for nostalgic personal reasons one assumes, in the summer of 1978, with Henry Regan – a young man in a sensible V-neck jumper – hunting for unspecified treasures in the woods, equipped with various devices (film camera, tape recorder, metal detector). Seemingly innocuous finds – oddly positioned lollipops, a broken-necked bear, a robot toy – reveal his mission is inextricably linked to a traumatic childhood.
Past and present increasingly blur in a movie that stages a couple of  brief, striking nightmare sequences but falls back on sub-Lynchian figures in rabbit suits in a bid to be surrealistic. Mansfield makes effectively eerie use of his natural backdrop, makes fleeting but astute use of “found-footage” and finds time for ominous puppetry. The movie’s overall homage to British folk horror is underlined by Cunning Talk’s original score, which bears the title “Blood on Satan’s Paw” in case the skull-uncovering moment hadn’t given away a major influence. Regan is OK, and there are isolated frissons that work (a ringing toy rotary phone in the middle of the woods, the sound of “Ring a Ring a Rosie’s”), but the pay-off is relatively weak and this kind of one-note, one-handed mood piece would have worked far better as a short.

Review by Steven West

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