Mandrake (2022)

Mandrake (2022) MOVIE DETAILS
Name: Mandrake
Year: 2022
Country: United Kingdom
Director: Lynne Davison
Main cast: Deirdre Mullins, Derbhle Crotty, Paul Kennedy, Seamus O’Hara, Nigel O’Neill, Ian Beattie, Sara Dylan, Roisin Gallagher
Runtime: 85 minutes
Production company: Village Films, Shudder (streaming)


Despite the fact that lately we are having a new hype of folk-horror films, with three mostly American productions Robert EggersThe Witch (2015), Ari Aster’s Midsommar (2019), and John Adams, Zelda Adams, and Toby Poser’s Hellbender (2021) [watch our review here] (sorry, I have a weakness for this one, for me, it deserves to be on the podium) as the most iconic ones, this delicious horror genre plagued with witchcraft, pagan rituals, and, sometimes, demonical worshiping has mostly been a British trademark with the titles Witchfinder General (1968), The Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971), and The Wicker Man (1973) as the essential ones to understand the subgenre.

In the last years, the old country has had a few titles getting back to the essence of the folk-horror on the big screen, with titles like the Irish Without Name (2016) or The Ritual (2017). And, this year, it is the turn of Mandrake (2022) to keep the audience aware and scared with a dark tale of darkness worshiping, witchcraft, and evil arts.

The movie is set in a cold British small town where a probation officer, masterfully played by Deirdre Mullins is tasked with rehabilitating a notorious killer named Mary Laidlaw, aka Bloody Mary, back into society following a two-decade sentence. The old woman doesn’t seem to be very willing, but the experienced officer, though but with a kind heart, tries to be as friendly and helpful as the law and her duty allow, staying away from the fear and hate the old woman has grown in the small town. But, as one could expect, Bloody Mary has other intentions, and a game of murdering, kidnapping, mythological creatures, and dark magic starts.

Mandrake (2022) is a dark trip from start to end. Deliciously filmed, with an excellent storytelling pace and cinematography, it is the kind of movie where you can get the cold of the British landscapes on your bones, the smell of the moldy walls on your nose, and the fear of the protagonists on your guts. The characters are well written, keeping many secrets inhabiting their beings hidden but, still, showing up who they are and what potential they have. And the story is simple but solid, it doesn’t deviate from its main purpose.

The director Lynne Davison debuts directing a feature film with Mandrake (2022), but she shows her crafty and refined knowledge of the cinematographic language in most of the running time of the film. The cinematography is precious in its darkness and the attractive camera angles turn almost every frame of the movie into a postcard from an obscure paradise.

If you are searching for a simple and dark story, or you are a fan of the folk-horror subgenre, I think Mandrake (2022) is one of those titles you can’t miss this year. And, after taking part in some film festivals, it is already available on Shudder. And, for the rest of the audience, well, don’t expect a slasher film with lots of action because this is not the kind.

RATE: 7/10