Fantasia Film Festival: The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw Review

The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw

With the critical and indie success of films like The Witch and Hereditary, Hollywood’s fascination with the occult is on the rise again. The idea that children can be a source of evil while parents may be in some way responsible, either knowingly or by accident, has been seen plenty of times before. With The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw, writer/director Thomas Robert Lee tries to create something different. The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw follows a small Irish community on the brink of devastation. Meanwhile, Agatha Earnshaw is seemingly immune to all of this. The town believes she is hiding a dark secret, but little do they know that secret is none other than her daughter, Audrey.

The film explores ideas that are sadly relevant in today’s society: What happens when it feels like God has abandoned you. Evil rises, and a lack of empathy in the world leads to the nurturing of the Antichrist. It’s something that you can see through the film’s symbolism of Jesus Christ. Her backstory and her characteristics share a similarity with the story of Jesus Christ. Seeing a “Superman: Red Son” version of Jesus’s story is such a scary idea, but thanks to several key issues, The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw doesn’t quite live up to this idea.

First of all, Audrey’s turn as a heel never feels earned as there’s no build-up to it. There is a lot of ambiguity in her character arc. Her logic to exact vengeance on the community completely does a one-eighty later on in the film. The film uses lazy plot devices and assumptions to explain her character development. The idea that Audrey’s repression is the cause of her vengeful streak is a lazy plot device used in so many horror movies before. Not even the idea that Audrey is inherently evil feels like a valid excuse, either. It’s one of those cases where she goes from a meek teenager to a vengeful sociopath rather quickly. 

The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw - Hannah Emily Anderson and Jared Abrahamson

It’s not just Audrey that goes through character issues as well. The citizens of the community are unemotional one-dimensional characters who show little reason for audiences to connect with them. The film uses them as cannon fodder in Audrey’s reign of vengeance. So they quickly come and go and forget that they were even in it in the first place.

The scares are wholly reliant on the shock of seeing a lot of blood and graphic violence, and aside from several creepy moments, they lack enough panache to engage audiences. Be that as it may, the occult scenes will creep you out and make you uncomfortable. Sadly, we don’t get to see a lot of them in the film. 

Also, director Thomas Robert Lee and cinematographer Nick Thomas captures the barren and esoteric town, which adds to the creepiness of this folk horror tale. Also, Jessica Reynolds goes 110% in her performance as Audrey Earnshaw. She’s so terrifying as Audrey that it, unfortunately, does magnify the suddenness of her heel turn. Jared Abrahamson also does a lot of heavy lifting as Colm Dwyer. His character became the only sympathetic character in the film, and in turn, Abrahamson performs with emotion and pain. 

The latest addition to the legacy of Antichrist films, The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw, attempts to be worthy of the bone-chilling creepiness of those that came before it but comes up depressingly short. Jessica Reynolds and Jared Abrahamson’s performances are highlights, and the film also contains a few well-done eerie moments.

Rating: 3/5 atoms

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