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RELEASED: 2003, Cert. 15
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 90 mins
DIRECTOR: Brian Gilbert
PRODUCERS: Marc & Peter Samuelson
SCREENPLAY: Anthony Horowitz
MUSIC: Anne Dudley
Christina Ricci as Cassie Grant
Kerry Fox as Marian Kirkman
Stephen Dillane as Simon Kirkman
Harry Forrester as Michael Kirkman
Ioan Gruffudd as Dan Blakely
Peter McNamara as Frederick Argyle
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Whilst travelling in the UK and falling down a hole in pursuit of the young man she was with, American teenager Cassie somehow then finds herself wandering down a country lane, when she is hit by a car. The mortified car driver (Marian Kirkham) invites the shaken but otherwise uninjured Cassie to stay at the Kirkham household in an attempt at atoning for the accident.
Cassie settles very quickly with the Kirkhams in their large house situated on the edge of a very picturesque West Country village, particularly warming to little Michael Kirkham. Simon, Marian's husband, works as a historic researcher and is involved in a project on unearthing icons hidden in an ancient church which had been buried several centuries ago.
As little Michael warms to Cassie, the pair form a strange and close bond. Cassie seems to understand Michael's nightmares, almost to the point where she is a part of them, and she has empathy with the little boy's asthma attacks.
After making friends with one of the locals, Dan Blakely, Cassie begins to have weird visions and premonitions involving some of the villagers, and strange recluse Frederick Argyle is very angry about something....he also has a gun!
That sets the basic outline......see the rest for yourself!
In a lot of ways, The Gathering is a delightful film of intrigue and mystery, much of it centering around Cassie's visions, whereby she 'sees' people from the village standing still and staring at her in a peculiar way, or she will have a kind of premonition about certain individuals, imagining things happening to them and the results.
I wasn't altogether clear at certain points during the film as to exactly what was going on, but it didn't really matter because despite a couple of corners of confusion, this is still a very suspenseful film which locked me into its storyline, not delivering a single boring moment throughout.
The acting for the most part was at least acceptable, although (again for the most part) nothing remarkably outstanding, but I was particularly impressed with Peter McNamara's portrayal of the local hermit, Frederick Argyle. Argyle is a surly, hostile, unfriendly man who obviously has some very serious issues and he lives alone with his dog in complete squalor in a very tiny stone cottage a little way off from the village, and Peter McNamara played the part with absolute perfection, coming across as extremely believable.
I'd be lying if I didn't say that some parts of the film are a little far-fetched, but that doesn't really pose a problem as the crux of the story is not what I'd call fantasy exactly....fantasy isn't the right word....a more accurate term to use is edging around the perimeters of the supernatural.
I didn't really manage to predict the ending, which is a good thing for me, but I mostly put that down to my hazy understanding of some of what was going on at various points during the film....my favourite part though was edging towards the end, when the character of Peter McNamara enters the story in a big way...it's difficult for me to elaborate more without creating a spoiler.
The surroundings in which The Gathering is filmed are beautiful....a typical, olde worlde, very well preserved British village nestling in green, rolling countryside and although I could well do without the 'happenings', it's a place I could envisage me retiring to if my bank balance was approaching millionaire status.
All in all, The Gathering is a very enjoyable, quite gripping little film which has a peculiarly British hallmark....reminiscent of something like Midsommer Murders or Inspector Morse, yet without the 'cop solves the mystery' element. I certainly would like to watch it again in the not too distant future, and would recommend it if you like a good mystery with a slightly supernatural edge.
At the time of writing, The Gathering can be purchased on Amazon as follows:-
New: from £3.10 to £11.08
Used: from 99p to £7.60
A delivery charge of £1.26 should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
Good concept and twist - Decent Film
Director Brian Gilbert
Writer Anthony Horowitz
Upon arrival in the town of Ashby Wake Cassie (Christina Ricci) is hit by a car causing amnesia that leaves her without any clue of why she is there. The driver of the car Marion allows Cassie to stay with their family whilst she recovers. Meanwhile Marion's husband Simon is researching a recently uncovered buried church from the 1st century. The church contains a strange fresco of a group of people watching the crucifixion of Christ. As Cassie stays longer in Ashby Wake she begins to have visions containing inhabitants of Ashby Wake. Will the secrets that the church hold reveal who Cassie really is and just why is she in Ashby Wake?
I have to say I really enjoyed this film. It has all of the elements that you would expect from a classic British supernatural thriller - small weird village with secrets and creepy inhabitants, ghostly premonitions and the feeling that some ancient evil has been awoken. The film is written by Antony Horowitz who has also written the screenplays for numerous Poirot and Midsommer Murders which should give you some feel of what to expect in the film.
The basic plot of the film is who is Cassie and why is she in Ashby Wake. You will, as I did, spend the whole film trying to work out why Cassie is there and what her connection is to the recently uncovered church from centuries earlier. However more importantly the film is based around a very intriguing thought provoking concept which I thought about for days afterwards and wanted to find out more about, as ever, I can't discuss as it would give the ending away.
Unfortunately the final film has suffered some sever cuts and there are a few plot holes that occur as a result. It was never entirely clear to me the relationship between Cassie and Michael the young son of the family who take Cassie in to their home nor was the relationship between Cassie and Dan. I was also left questioning the motives of the character Frederick Argyle who is central to the unravelling of the mystery. Nevertheless there is enough here to still make this a very enjoyable film. It is probably saved by the great concept.
The characters in the film are really good as are the British cast. It is one of those where you find yourself going "oh thats thingy out of thingy". The only character I had a problem with was Cassie not because she wasn't a good character but because she was played by Christina Ricci (not that I have anything against Christina). This may just be me but I really do not like it when an American actor is plonked in the middle of a British film for no apparent plot reason. I find an American accent grating amongst the British accents and Riccis "star presence" is really intrusive amongst a cast of mainly unknown Brits. I cannot help but think I would have enjoyed the film more if Cassie had been not been played by an American actor.
On the whole I thought that this film was ok but what is a brilliant concept is not fully explored nor given full justice.
If you like films such as The Others or Sixth Sense you should enjoy this.