The Singing Bird Will Come Movie Review
Written by Simret Cheema-Innis
Written and Directed by Iain Ross-McNamee
Screened on 30th January 2015, Not Yet Rated
Gillian Harker as Lauren
Charles O'Neill as James
Laura Wilson as Zoe
A ghostly tale takes on the form of a gazillion horror tropes and delivers us from the main evil of the film: The writing.
Writing an original horror story is not an easy task, let alone making a feature film - in this case an overly long feature - but The Singing Bird Will Come does have one thing going for it: The actors who, through the layers of clichéd and recycled dialogue, manage to lend their talent to a film which is a technical mess.
Lauren (Gillian Harker) returns from London to her home town in the country after hearing her father isn’t coping well with her mother’s death. She takes up a job working in a pub as a cleaner, where she faces daily ridicule from the girls in the local neighbourhood who chastise her for leaving for London in the first place. Small towns make for smalltalk, and Lauren begins to feel isolated by a home she no longer associates with. She joins a historical society where she meets James (Charles O’Neil) who gives lectures on witches and befriends her. He also reveals he used to own the pub Lauren works in, but discloses nothing more about it.
As horror movies go, strange stuff starts to happen. While cleaning in the evenings, Lauren keeps seeing a ghost-like figure appearing in the pub, then she starts experiencing strange dreams. Lauren is confused, sometimes she dreams of her mother in the same dream as the ghostly apparitions. It unhinges her and she turns to James for answers, but he’s very secretive and defensive when she asks about the history of the pub.
After more dreams and with her own suspicions rising, Lauren decides to sneak into James’s house to find out what he’s hiding and discovers an unfortunate and disturbing secret. But it isn’t too much of a secret because we kind of knew it all along.
The finale of the film is like any other ghost story you’ve seen or even read from horror anthologies in the 60s or 70s. The reveal doesn’t come as a shock and where we could’ve been rewarded with something more abhorrent and wicked, the ending is ineffective, killing any hope of an intelligent twist or resolution.
The Singing Bird Will Come is proof in the pudding that pulling off an independent horror movie and doing most of the work on your own can be a huge and sometimes disappointing challenge. Story aside, it is technically amateur, with low lighting, a choice which doesn’t do the film any favours in terms of adding atmosphere.
Above vision comes sound and if the sound is unbearable it will be pretty difficult to keep the audience interested and most of all entertained. Enough said for that part.
Character Lauren finds it difficult to relate to her father and communication is often strained. There is potential charm in this relationship, that if shot, scripted and executed professionally, would have made for beautiful and empathetic scenes. The problem is the film is too close to realism in how it is shot and edited that it can’t be taken seriously. Imagine a Turkey trying to convince everyone it was a dog but was dead serious in doing so. It would be humiliating.
Characters should react. It’s a classic mistake in amateur filmmaking (me included) when the paranormal and supernatural start occurring, the characters don’t react to the scary stuff in front of them. It's another of the many things that plague this film. However, there are good performances from the actors which, if shot and written better, would have bypassed the lack of film originality.
The Singing Bird Will Come is a first feature, probably not worth a screening at the Odeon Studios in Leicester Square, but it’s a good indicator of how not to shoot a horror movie. However, I appreciate the love for the genre and the effort from its cast and crew.
Making a feature film is a challenge of a lifetime and The Singing Bird Will Come is an example of the lengths fans of the genre will go to express their passion for repulsion. There’s no better way to do it than to immerse yourself in the macabre and then shoot a movie, a testament to a true horror fan.
The Singing Bird Will Come is available to stream online by clicking the cover below.