A strange premise for a horror film. What can be scary about a shout? But this is no ordinary shout, it’s an aboriginal shout so loud and ear-slicing that it kills whoever hears it.
This actually pretty good film starts with the suitably surreal situation of a cricket match in a Lunatic Asylum. Yes, that’s a cricket match in a Lunatic Asylum. There’s something vaguely anachronistic about seeing a lanky, athletic Jim Broadbent with a full head of hair sliding on his knees and skipping around the wickets in soggy, diaphanous pantaloons but things do indeed get weirder.
John Hurt plays an avant-garde musician – making sounds from wasps trapped in jars, that type of thing – and a strapping Alan Bates is the libertarian (but at everyone else’s expense) house guest from hell who assumes much, drinks copious glasses of Mateus Rosé and repays Hurt by doggedly shagging his wife.
The patriarchal subtext is not for the faint-hearted. Brooding Bates spent 18 years in Aboriginal Australia, where he developed quaint customs such as killing his offspring and putting a spell over his wife, including holding the reins of power over her feelings by also having the power to withhold affection at any minute. Now Hurt’s wife, Susannah York is all for this, natch, and obliges accordingly. Taking a bit of a liberty, all things considered, but there are hidden benefits to any unwanted house guest, if you know where to look.