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By midlandsmovies, Mar 28 2020 09:39AM

The Reunion

Directed by Pixel Moore


Howdy! The sun rises across the plains as we step into the old American West for new film The Reunion from Pixel Moore which tells the tale of a man’s past catching up with him.

Set on a farming ranch, a lonesome woman (Rebecca Hanssen as Abigail) undertakes her chores before heading to the wilderness to collect water from an old pump before finding her father (Tony Hamilton as Frank) shot in the abdomen.

Written by Midlands filmmaker Louis Brough it is again honourable to see local projects tackle Hollywood-style genres that surpass the limitations of a low budget and often very restricted resources.

Brough has previously tackled the fantasy genre in his film Aurora (our review here) as well as another American drama set on the rail tracks of America in Runaways (our review here). Filming in the UK, the short does it best to convince you it’s actually the colonial past and the excellent wardrobe also sells the illusion.

From your standard cattle clothing to pioneer-era sun bonnets, the film’s costume is a highlight with its authentic look to create a cowboy-feel with rustlers, horses and a ‘yee-haw’ atmosphere.

That’s not to say it’s a comedy pastiche. From the desolate trails to the wooden barns, influences come from classic Westerns and when a stranger in black arrives (Michael Siegel as Uncle Jared), the short takes a dramatic turn which reunites family, and a dark past.

The Reunion then is clearly a genre piece and from the accents to the outfits, sells the audience a genuine slice of rodeo-inspired drama.

In addition, the solid performances and slick editing has the narrative gallop along to a powerful and bloody conclusion. So get off your horse, drink your milk and settle in for an impactful Western short with plenty to recommend.

Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, Mar 28 2019 12:12PM

Midlands Review - Runaways

Directed by Louis Brough


“The world’s leading cause of homelessness for women is domestic violence”.

This statement opens a new film from Midlands director Louis Brough who has just released a new short drama which tackles a number of serious and weighty themes.

Our central character is Lenora (played by Ciara Lyons) who we are introduced to on a train. But far from the comfort of an opulent carriage, she appears to be a stowaway in an old baggage cart. Scared and dishevelled she is approached by a suited man before we cut away to another man now holding her mouth shut set in the same location.

A strange edit, an audience may not be sure if this is the same time or place as the character is situated in the identical set and the lighting barely changes.

However, as we discover numbers on this new man’s overalls it is revealed that he is an escaped criminal hiding from the authorities. Although his attempt to silence the woman was to prevent her screams, he apologises for his actions by trading an apple for Lenora’s name which is hungrily devoured by the cowering woman.

Runaways has its leads playing their roles with American accents and gives admirable effort to move the Midlands across the Atlantic. Like the director’s last film (Aurora) which took a fairy tale flight of fancy to a faraway land, local directors are expanding their repertoire with a broad set of influences. And similar to Enemies (filmed in Derby but set during the American Civil War), it’s great to see the varied (Hollywood) influences filmmakers in the area have injected into their projects.

Back to the story we are informed by the con that he is travelling to see his daughter who he hasn’t seen in 11 years and is also understanding of Lenora’s plight. The con is played by the appropriately named Richard Comfort of all things. We are then told Lenora is on the run from her terrible husband and is dealing with the loss of her baby caused by his violent actions.

A few more varied camera angles would have helped maintain a more dynamic visual tone and the lighting, which captures the dark seedy nature of their hiding place, is sometimes a little too under-lit. That said, some well-edited and mixed sound effects help sell a convincing train location – and far better than a recent wide-release movie I watched in all honesty.

As we journey along the tracks of her story the film ends with a glimmer of hope and some beautiful singing. A well-performed double-act, the two leads give believable turns as lost souls leaving terribly afflicted lives behind. For me though, as honourable as the opening and closing statements on domestic violence were, they do seem a little at odds with the film’s historical style. Will people relate modern concerns with this traveller’s tale from the Deep South?

Well it didn’t quite link the metaphor as smooth as I thought it could, but you shouldn't worry about that insignificant structural set-up, asit won’t stop audiences from enjoying Runaways' high points as it respectfully shows how testimony from the past is still very much relevant today.

Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, Nov 2 2018 10:21PM

Midlands Spotlight - Aurora

Midlands Movies editor Mike Sales discovers new local short film Aurora from regional filmmaker Louis Brough. From its fairy tale roots to an extended post-production period, the film has had a rocky road to completion but is close to release through the hard work of a dedicated cast and crew.

Inspired by the beloved fairy tale "The Sleeping Beauty in the Woods", new Midlands short Aurora follows a young teenage girl and her journey of self-discovery before the curse placed on her at birth takes over.

And although the film finished shooting in July of last year, since then local director Louis Brough has been deep in post-production but it’s not quite a ‘happy ever after’ just yet.

After losing the original composers, the score was rewritten and the mixing was a long process which the production spent a long time perfecting. And visual effects had a difficult task in removing telegraph poles and creating a floating book but, in his own words, "finally we are ready to submit the film to festivals and share it with the world”, says Louis.

“We had an amazing shoot in Hampshire's New Forest, capturing some terrific performances and have developed a beautiful and unique story”.

Alongside Louis is co-director and award-winning actress Natalie Martins and Louis explains, like the best old tales of yore, the idea has been gestating for a very long time.

“I originally wrote this idea down when I was 11 and decided this is a good time to develop this project. And after speaking to Natalie about it we both fell in love with the idea of exploring a coming of age story in a fairy tale setting”.

Louis adds, “Together we want to explore the character of Sleeping Beauty in much more detail than what has previously been explored in other adaptations of this classic tale. We will spend time with her and witness her reaction as she is told about the curse that has been following her for her entire life”.

This coming of age fantasy tale is an exploration of the Sleeping Beauty story told from the perspective of the girl who will fall asleep at the end of the film.

And although the audience may know that it ultimately has a happy ending owing to its many retellings, Louis hopes the intrigue will come from not knowing anything about this girl who will be awakened by true love's kiss.

And Louis suggests the film uses the familiarity to explore many more new ideas and themes.

"The concept of Aurora uses a tale we all know very well, but delves into depths which are likely to remain in the audience's minds for some time”.

The video of their funding campaign can be viewed below and check out the film’s updates on Facebook:


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