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Drama - No Category

The Living and the Dead (2007)

Duration1h 23m
RatingsUK: 18, USA:  Not rated, Spain 18
Source of storyAn original screenplay
DirectorSimon Rumley
Writers/ScriptSimon Rumley
StarringLeo Bill, Roger Lloyd-Pack, Kate Fahy
RatingsIMDb:  5.9 by 2,251 people. Rotten Tomatoes: 91% by 11 critics.

Elevator Pitch: Three people rattle about in a large semi-derelict English manor house. The father, Donald, his wife Nancy and their son James. James has serious mental problems and takes masses of tablets to keep him on the rails, Nancy is bedridden, suffering from cancer and Donald tries to deal with both. Eventually Donald has to leave for London to attempt to solve their financial problems, and has arranged for a nurse to come along and look after Nancy, but James is of the opinion that he can do the job, forcing his mother to take many tablets and getting her into a bath of rusty water, while the nurse arrives, but is locked out. Things can only get worse.

Content: We see James self medicating, which includes injecting himself with something., and both he and Donald wander about in the cavernous passages of the house, often carrying a possible breakfast for Nancy on a tray.  She is fed many tablets by James – it is awful. Donald is seen at various times in a debilitated mental state, at one time threatening health workers with a knife. Nancy appears to get better, but James stabs her to death and later stabs himself.

A View: There is just a bit of non-sexual nudity, I feel distressed just writing about it. The film won quite a few minor awards, including a special mention at Sitges, Spain’s premier film festival. It did not cost much, and might not have got its money back. The house features strongly. It is a great big place, mostly derelict but the mother’s bedroom is quite friendly. The timeline is not completely clear, but by the time we got to the finale my wife and I were completely rung out. It is alarming stuff, well worth a watch if you feel you can stand it. 

Additional Info: Savernake Forest is just outside Marlborough in Wiltshire. It is broken up by a pattern of small roads centring, I assume, on Tottenham House, which was used for the filming.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels


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