Cinema serves many functions, but escapism is definitely high up there on the list. To bring an audience together in a darkened room and then make them forget their troubles for a couple of hours, is a precious and priceless thing. As with literature, science fiction and fantasy have proved to be perennial favourites. The creation of a convincing and consistent world is probably the biggest challenge for filmmakers. It’s something Nicholas Ashe Bateman manages with aplomb in his new film The Waning Mare.

In the world of Anmaere, north of the city of Whithren, wild horses run through the moorlands and up the coast. A valuable commodity, they’re captured and shipped across the sea to the continent of Levithen once a year. This ticket of passage is highly sought after. Moira (Jordan Monaghan) grows up alone with only a recurring dream to guide her. Desperate to leave, an encounter with an injured criminal (Josh Clark) provides an opportunity to escape.

The Wanting Mare is a strange and elusive film which refuses to be pegged down. Whilst the story of escape and survival is a familiar one, the way it’s told isn’t. Bateman’s film is highly enigmatic, weaving the digital and the natural together to create a haunting and complex tale. There’s beauty in this descent into a mysterious and minacious near-reality. The Wanting Mare bathes in the fantastical to create a poetic and eerie fable.

The Wanting Mare is in US cinemas and on VOD from 5 February.