The World We Knew had its world premiere at FrightFest 2020. This post will be updated with future release dates when they become available.
An abandoned and neglected farmhouse sits proudly among the rolling fields of its birth. Its location far from public view; its mysteries engrained in the fabric of its crumbling facade. But, despite its looks, life remains entombed in its rooms, as five armed robbers sit silently waiting. Their last robbery mired in a panic that led to the death of a police officer. While at the same time, one of their own lays in a hastily dug shallow grave outside the door. With another bleeding profusely from a gunshot wound, his blood-soaked bed a mere grave in waiting.
Here we find Stoker (Kirk Lake) quietly sitting contemplating the events that just took place. While, ex-boxer Gordon hides his fear behind a wall of drugs, and Barker (Struan Rodger), tells stories of his long life in crime; internally breathing a sigh of relief that his final job is complete. Meanwhile, in the corner of the room young first-time dad, Eddie (Alexander Wells) sits in silence; his hands having pulled the trigger that led to the copper’s demise. But, sitting upstairs nursing his slowly dying friend, Carpenter (Finbar Lynch) leads the group; his instructions coming straight from the crime boss whose shadow hangs over them all.
However, with each man haunted by the actions of their past, while in turn looking toward the sunrise and home; the night holds a far more deadly mystery. As the history of violence surrounding them seeps through the walls. With each man forced to face their role in the bungled armed robbery, as the group crumbles alongside the house surrounding them.
Occupying the ground between crime drama and supernatural thriller, The World We Knew is nothing short of fascinating and enthralling. With Matthew Benjamin Jones and Luke Skinner directing their first feature-length film with all the flair of an outstanding theatre production. In fact, this is a film that would feel equally at home on a west-end stage. The screenplay penned by Matthew Benjamin Jones and Kirk Lake echoing the mystery and drama of Jez Butterworth’s Mojo. But, here the complexities of the crime ‘gang’ drama are embedded within a classic haunted house template. The rundown farmhouse becoming a vehicle for each mans deepest and darkest fears as the night unfolds. But, unlike the recent Ghosts of War, a film that occupied a similar space in the horror genre. The World We Knew steers clear of effects, blood and Hollywood simplicity. Instead, opting for tension, atmosphere and a final killer twist.
The World We Knew delights in a slow-burn sense of impending doom, allowing time for each character to build their backstory. With the dysfunctional gang sitting in enforced seclusion; their distrust of each other permeating every conversation. The only genuine bonds of support, held in the relationship between Barker and young Eddie. The ageing gang member’s last job an opportunity to wrap his arms around a young man who is haunted by his fathers criminal past. And it is here where each performance is nothing short of exceptional. The small but perfectly formed ensemble beautifully encapsulating the creeping sense of unease, as the cloak of night descends. While at the same time, the location screams with a hidden history that only becomes clear in the final scenes.
And it is within these final scenes that The World We Knew burns as brightly as the sun rising above the rundown farmhouse. The mystery of the dwelling unveiled in an enthralling and captivating one on one performance. As the need for grandiose statements or explosive stunts is replaced by a delicate yet gripping conclusion that haunts and intrigues the viewer long after the credits have rolled. In a film that defies a sense of time or place, its action held within a void of past and present. While at the same time, its style and confidence transcend its budget, in a genuinely fresh slice of supernatural horror.