“HEX” is an independent horror/thriller written by George Popov and Jonathan Russell that will be available on Amazon Prime later this month. Popov also directed this one with Russell co-directing and the story follows two soldiers during the English Civil War. Two men on different sides of the war that end up separated from their units and trapped in a stretch of dense forest that is controlled by a Witch.
Something I love about smaller independent films is the element of the unknown that comes with them. This film is the definition of an indie-flick with a budget of around £1000 which is astonishing when you look at the result. This was a beautifully shot movie that displays a fantastic use of natural landscapes. This adds a rich depth to the story that sometimes even the most detailed of film sets cannot pull off. The settings and backdrops were well selected, naturally appealing, and they effectively immersed me into the world of the story. The locations were ominous, but beautiful at the same time and it created an engaging vibe.
The wooded locations enable the time-period to come through on their own from the remoteness they capture. I could sense the isolation the characters faced, and it connected me with them organically by evoking me to put myself in their position. It enabled me to get the full impact of the impending darkness that seemed to always be surrounding them. Popov’s direction makes excellent use of natural lighting and it created a strong visual appeal. There were many artistic shots that gave the film a crisp look, that only helped in grabbing my attention as all of these elements felt meshed together effectively.
There were only a couple characters, and the dialogue was minimal at times. But with the selection of camera angles, and choices of using various slow pans, or simple framing techniques, there was always something to grab the eye. This aspect was something that conjured a lot of emotion on its own that heightened tension, and casted a constant foreboding feeling while watching. The musical score was also very well done and perfectly tailored for this story. It builds suspense and uneasiness perfectly, and when added with a story that is hard to predict, it results in a very compelling package.
Like I said there were only a couple characters in this story-line for a bulk of the time. This is something that can make-or-break a film, but with the performances of Daniel Oldroyd and William Young the film thrives. They both deliver just what their roles needed. One is more of a religious man, another is a soldier through-and-through, and the arcs their characters take in this film was intriguing. Their characters evolve nicely as the story progresses, and both Oldroyd and Young portray the depths of emotion needed to pull it off with realism. Both of them share an uneasy chemistry with one another that helps resonate the uncomfortable alliance between them as they sense something evil is all around them. Which of course made me want to see how the story would end for them.
I thought this story-line wove a very tense thriller that maintained an enjoyable tension throughout. Many scenes were framed very well, they had a subtlety to them, yet they translated to some creepy moments. This was a slow-paced film, but it was intentional. The silent imagery was purposeful, and it doesn’t fill the story with traditional horror elements, but still crafts some eerie scenes that capture the dread of the plots subject-matter with thought provoking result. This is a movie any film-maker should watch if they feel their current project is hindered by a budget. This movie looks polished and uses some skillful film-making techniques to weave many strong elements together into a movie that they can certainly be proud of. If you are a fan of indie films that show creativity and effort, I definitely recommend this one when it hits Amazon later this month.