Directed by Thomas Robert Lee, The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw explores the increasingly strained relationship between Agatha (Catherine Walker) and her daughter Audrey (Jessica Reynolds), who has been kept a secret her entire life. Suspected to be conducting witchcraft, hysteria mounts as farms in the town have been fruitless, while Agatha’s continues to flourish.
The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw, adds to the subgenre of folk horror by utilizing the fear of seclusion and explores the effects of fear in different contexts: a town plagued by starvation, the looming threat of witchcraft, and the fear a mother has for her daughter who no longer sees the value in her protection. Agatha believes their key to survival is caution and avoidance while Audrey sees that approach as weakness. After witnessing the mistreatment of her mother, Audrey decides the town is in need of consequences.
Witchcraft has been explored in countless ways, from films like Suspiria to The Witch. What many of those films have that this lacks is a smooth build of anxiety inducing fear and hysteria. I found myself often bored due to the inconsistent pacing.
Using elements of a coming of age story sets a precedent around how the characters will be developed yet it fails short of the charm that comes from empathy for the young person’s circumstances. It becomes increasingly hard to empathize for Audrey as she delegates harsh punishments that did not fit the crime.
Of course no film has to follow a set formula for a genre, otherwise we’d never have any sort of creative liberties. But by the end the intentions of the movie are conflicting and confusing. The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw doesn’t bring anything new or fresh to folk horror or witchcraft. Which does not make it a bad film, but unfortunately does make it forgettable.
The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw premieres on October 2, 2020.