LFF Review: Shepherd

Eric is looking for a new start

Although this applies to some of us more than others, as humans we are social animals. We yearn for the company of others, to forge friendships and make our own families. This is how early man survived in harsh and dangerous landscapes. However, when something terrible happens we can often retreat and look inwards for a solution. Shun wider society and withdraw into ourselves. Too brittle to face up to others. In Shepherd, a man seeks solace but only finds ghosts.

After the death of his wife (Gaia Weiss) who was pregnant with their child, Eric Black (Tom Hughes) is inconsolable with grief. At a loss at what to do next and with thoughts of taking his own life, he answers and advert for a job as a shepherd on a remote island. With only his dog for company and infrequent visits of a sailor (Kate Dickie) who brings him supplies, Eric tries to settle into his new life. However, haunted by the past, the island begins to take on a malevolent complexion.

Shepherd plays on the demons which haunt the newly bereaved, creating phantoms around every corner. The guilt of loss can gnaw away at us, and as Eric tries to think of anything but he is repeatedly drawn back into himself. Writer/Director Russell Owen’s film is a subtle take on psychological horror. The dark and rugged landscape is shrouded in shadows. Shepherd plays on this remoteness to create a creepy and eerie tale.

Shepherd screens at London Film Festival and is released theatrically in the UK and Ireland by Darkland Distribution on 26 November.

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