Shepherd is a psychological horror from British director Russell Owen about a bereaved husband who takes a job on a craggy isolated Scottish island only to find there are dark forces at work and he has to fight to keep his sanity and save his own life. In UK/EIRE Cinemas from 26th November.
Eric (Tom Hughes) has had to bury his young wife who died in mysterious circumstances. On his own, with just his dog as a companion, still suffering with grief, he finds a job in the local newspaper as a shepherd on a remote island. Before leaving for the job he visits his mother Glenys (Greta Saatchi), who seems to have little sympathy. His deceased wife was clearly someone she didn’t like very much, feeling she divided their family. Eric takes the ferry to the island with the ferry attendant Fisher (Katie Dickie), a spooky looking local who doesn’t dare set foot a proper on the island. She shows him the old cottage and the lighthouse and reminds him of his job to look after the sheep, before wishing him an ominous good luck. Life on the island looks bleak. Totally isolated, the cottage is completely run down, there’s no generator or water and despite his best efforts to make a home for himself it is not long before the island and the cottage take a sinister hold on his fragile state where even the sheep begin to give him funny looks.
Written and directed by Russell Owen it’s a small but excellently cast film led by Tom Hughes as the rugged island venturer trying to escape his past. Greta Saatchi puts in a surprising turn as his weary mother wearing the most delightful aran stockings and Katie Dickie plays Fisher the one eyed ferry attendant who holds the island’s secrets and who’s unnerving gaze is enough to make even the dog cower.
The location shows the breathtaking scenery of the remote Scottish Isle captured dramatically by cinematographer Richard Stoddard and the production design from Chris Richmond maximises the horror with minimalist effort. There are some startling scenes that show great horror credentials and it’s excellently scored with some dramatic orchestration heightening the escalating tensions and bringing the island to life.
This has the ingredients of a classic British horror with the wild British Isle scenery, which is a joy on the eye, tinged with a suitable amount of grey overcast weather and a quirky little cast. Although it misses a final satisfactory appeasement in my book, maybe there will be more shepherding to come.
Director: Russell Owen
Stars: Tom Hughes, Kate Dickie, Gaia Weiss & Greta Saatchi
Genre: Horror, Mystery
Run time: 1hr 43min