The Living and the Dead (2006) d. Simon Rumley (UK)
A gut-wrenching exploration of mental illness, social status, age and mortality, writer/director Simon Rumley’s macabre microbudget masterpiece attacks viewers with staccato visuals and a driving soundscape serving its terrifying high-concept narrative.
Determined to prove his worth to his stiff Brit father (Roger Lloyd Pack), a mentally challenged young man (Leo Bill) barricades his terminally ill mother (Kate Fahy) and himself within their once-beautiful-now-lying-derelict royal manor house, desperate to care for/cure her ills despite his obvious inability to do so.
Anchored by three amazing central performances, Rumley’s frenetic cinematic style recalls that of Darren Aronofsky’s nightmarish Requiem for a Dream, an apt comparison considering that both films contain undeniably horrifying imagery and scenarios, yet skirt the fringe of the genre proper. Highly recommended.