‘Father of Flies’ – An Atmospheric, Yet Messy Horror: Review

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Set in a remote house, Father of Flies sees a young boy's family home completely change when his mother is pushed out and replaced by a strange new woman. Matters escalate for the boy when terrifying supernatural forces seem to have moved in with her.

Michael (Keaton Tetlow) is a young boy, whose remote family home is completely changed when his mother is pushed out and replaced by a strange new woman named Coral (Camilla Rutherford). Matters escalate for Michael when terrifying supernatural forces seem to have moved in with her.

★★★✰✰

The second film by Ben Charles Edwards sees him not only sitting in the director’s chair, but also serving as a writer and producer. Edwards really knows what he’s doing behind the camera, framing so many of the scenes in Father of Flies with such care and detail. What really stood out was the brilliant use of angles and the varied shots he uses. Being mainly set in the one house, we see a lot of exterior shots that hammer home the feeling of isolation that the characters endure. You really feel like you’re in there with them.

White is the most profound colour present in the film due to the washed out look that features in every scene; it really adds to the bleak and lonely atmosphere of the film. Even with others in the house, the interactions are slim. Everyone feels isolated both physically and mentally. Given the fact that the winter backdrop is a use of pathetic fallacy, it echoes the icy, cold atmosphere in the house to effectively set the tone.

The snowy environment is used to great effect with a key focus on the natural elements. Hearing birdsong or the wind flowing through the trees cements the fact that there isn’t anyone for some distance. Lovely shots of the trees from a low angle or a recurring look at a wind-chime look really professional and straight out of a big-budget release.

There is a tense, hostile atmosphere from the dynamic inside the household. Any new partner moving into a pre-established family with a child that doesn’t get on with them is going to make it an unpleasant place to be in—but Camilla Rutherford’s Coral takes it to another level. She is such a creepy presence when she is slowly making her way through the house or speaking in such an eerie way. You feel on edge just wondering what she is capable of and when she gets left alone with the children, that’s when the fear really sinks in.

But she isn’t the only thing wrong in the house—with a presence that rears its head later on in the runtime which really amps up the creep-factor. These supernatural events give the story an extra “oomph” that it needed to break up the tense, family drama, and take it into classic horror territory. Those in charge must be commended for bringing these entities to life because what we saw was fantastic! Really next-level stuff that was unexpected from a low-budget film such as this.


These supernatural events give the story an extra “oomph” that it needed to break up the tense, family drama, and take it into classic horror territory.


When it comes to scares, Father of Flies does some nice tension-building that leads to either a well-placed jump-scare or to just add to that ever-present feeling of dread. Of course, there’s the supernatural elements, but interestingly, they throw in some other legitimately creepy imagery that stand out very nicely.

Unfortunately, as good as the way Father of Flies looks and feels, the film isn’t really sure what it wants to do. Sometimes it’s this tense, moody horror, and other times it’s a messy directionless picture that has all the gear and no idea. Certain ideas were hinted at, but didn’t go anywhere in the end, leaving it quite unsatisfying. This isn’t helped by a twist that only made it more confusing.

Something else that was frustrating was the decision to film important moments as a montage, or with quick cuts backed by loud music. I felt that these parts should have been shown properly to give us more depth and actually pay off the bountiful amounts of set-up they’d been given. Shooting them in this way just made it feel like a cheap way of ticking off boxes on a list of plot-points.

Verdict:

Father of Flies is a film that certainly had potential, with an intriguing plot and good direction—but fails in some of the execution, leaving it feeling half-baked by the end. It undoubtedly has its share of highlights and an effective score that truly brings home the feeling that the film ignites in you. Sadly, it just doesn’t come together as well as it should, needing more time or space to flesh out the story.

Words by Richard Ord


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