Film review: Amulet

Creepy house of horror tale that descends into confusion

Hero image

British horror Amulet (from 28 January, Home, Manchester and other venues) is about a troubled former soldier, Tomaz, who’s haunted by experiences during a conflict in an unnamed country and now homeless in London. He’s offered the chance to get his life back together when a local nun introduces him to Magda, who lives with her dying mother in a rundown house. But as Tomaz settles in and begins to fall for the lonely young woman, he begins to realise that there’s something insidious living alongside them.

Written and directed by actor-turned-filmmaker Romola Garai, this is a creepy, atmosphere-heavy bit of socially-tinged terror. Alec Secareanu, previously seen in the brilliant God’s Own Country, is great as Tomaz, who is both desperate to help but also hiding a shameful secret of his own, and Imelda Staunton has great fun in her role of Sister Claire, of which little more can be said lest it spoil the plot.

The settings for the unfolding tale have undertones of a dark fairy tale. Tomaz’s flashbacks to his former country see him hiding out in a strange wood and rescuing a local woman on the run. It’s here that he digs up an earthenware figurine that will come to play a major role in events later. And the old, decaying house replete with deep shadows, dripping taps and odd stains on the walls is an effectively realised place to ramp up the claustrophobic weirdness and general unease that’s present during the first two thirds of the film.

Where things falter is in a muddled and over-the-top closing act. There’s clearly a message, and quite a sombre and serious one, that that film is trying to convey about gender power imbalance and male aggression, but it gets lost. And like several other modern indie horrors – Hereditary and Shepherd to name but two – Amulet confuses intrigue with just outright confusion about what exactly is going on and takes itself overly seriously, even when it gets to its ludicrously hysterical finale. The only light relief comes during a tacked-on scene at the end that doesn’t tonally fit with the rest of the film, but which gives a mischievous hint of something more playful that might have developed if it had been given room to emerge.

If you liked this article, we think you’ll enjoy these:

Interact: Responses to Film review: Amulet

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.