Lord of Misrule Review

Lord of Misrule
Lord of Misrule
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Ralph Ineson has got himself the perfect face for folk horror movies. His most significant roles include playing a zealous father in The Witch, where he appeared as a medieval knight, and in other series such as Game of Thrones & The Green Knight. Thus, when his long face and deep resonance come out through Lord of Misrule, there can only be one explanation really roo…ting … … back into consciousness.

Unfortunately, this contemporary entry into British folk horror comes towards the end of a cycle that started about ten years ago. (In the U.K., folk horror is particularly big given that both writer and director are British.) So watching this movie’s ancient ritual sacrifice mural or hearing Ineson’s Robert Eggers’ “New England folktale” speech about land spirits inevitably reminds one of Midsommar. However, writer Tom de Ville and director William Brent Bell – who previously made Brahms: The Boy II with Ineson – don’t stop their creative train here.

Lord of Misrule could have a few more things going for it. First, the religious protagonist is an obvious Christian, bringing in possession subgenre tropes with crosses and demon voices. Then there’s the English murder mystery element, specifically of the Broadchurch “sinister secrets beneath an idyllic surface” variety. But blending all this with a Wicker Man plot about a small town sacrificing outsiders to appease an ancient god yields a result that is less than the sum of its parts.

Rebecca Holland (played by Tuppence Middleton) becomes the new vicar of a beautiful English village. At first sight, Rebecca looks at her surrounding area suspiciously as the local harvest celebrations draw to their climax: a masked ‘Lord of Misrule’ who performs exorcism before leading revelers into riotous night dancing and drinking around bonfires filled with fiendish mirth. She does not exactly approve – after all she plays on another team – yet she accepts pagan rites as part of her new home’s culture. However, during one moment when people are enjoying themselves Rebecca’s young daughter Grace (Evie Templeton) disappears.

To give Lord of Misrule a boost, several other components can be added. First is the provision of an unambiguous Christian main character whose faith brings in some elements of the possession subgenre complete with all its crosses and grumbly-voiced demons. Additionally, there is a British murder mystery in the manner that Broadchurch’s “sinister secrets beneath an idyllic surface” does. But mashing this up with the Wicker Man plot about a small town sacrificing outsiders to appease an ancient god gives you less than the sum of its parts.

Rebecca Holland (Tuppence Middleton) plays a recently installed English village vicar. Initially, Rebecca watches suspiciously over her new community’s harvest festival culminating in a masked man called the “Lord of Misrule” who drives off one demon before presiding over a wild night filled with dancing and drinking around ritual bonfires. She doesn’t exactly approve – she bats for the other side after all – but she knows it’s part of where she lives now. Grace lost herself somewhere amid these celebrations.

This marks the beginning of what eventually fades as Ineson’s character – a villager who teaches children about local customs at what’s euphemistically called “Nature Club” – takes center stage in this flickering departure from reality known as Lord of Misrule. Here, devils from before and after Christianity conquered Britain bewilder Rebecca in her attempt to find her daughter. Finally, they lead her to Galagog (a figure who looks like a goat) and the “Black Barn”, where he awaits God’s daughter.

Folk magic traditions both real and imagined add interesting texture to its soupy slurry of pseudo-pagan hogwash which comprises Lord Of Misrule. These rituals lack any particular perspective, so people just put together cool images without any meaning whatsoever! A few seconds’ worth of inspired horror filmmaking would have been more effective than the last half-hour of this film, which explains entirely too much with too little artistic flair.

Read Lord of Misrule on Fmovies

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