By midlandsmovies, Dec 15 2019 11:08AM
Directed by Hendrik Harms
Harms Way Studios
The annual decorating of the Christmas tree opens new creepy short Wild Hunt from Midlands director Hendrik Harms.
Two sisters (Tess Clarke as Maggie and Charlotte Wallis as Beatrice) bicker over who should top the tree with an angel but elder sister Maggie kindly allows her sibling to take the honours. However, the lovely gesture soon turns into a nightmare when Maggie awakes in the middle of the night to see her sister dragged away by a person unknown.
An intriguing opening, the mystery is set up and Harms further pushes away from Christmas tropes into a dark arena as Maggie meets a stranger at a candlelit table. Here she asks about the legend of Woden.
For those who don’t know, he’s historically linked to the origins of Santa and was worshipped by the Anglo-Saxons and Celts. Woden, the god of magic and healing rode across the sky on an eight-legged white horse and came to Earth in the form of Father Christmas, dispensing goodwill, luck, peace, of course presents.
Harms is aiming to mix two very different tones and although the Indiana Jones supernatural elements sometimes grate against the domestic settings, it’s mostly successful in giving yuletide tropes a new horror spin.
Maggie also explains that Woden wasn’t all fun and games. The legend says Woden uses young people as forest hunters and kidnaps more children as replacements if one dies.
Following the instructions of the mysterious woman, Maggie soon ends up in the Black Forest searching for the mythical entity to retrieve her sister. From the angelic decoration to Violet’s name – violets first blossomed when Gabriel told Mary of her impending birth as well as symbolising protection and connection – Harms’ little touches, both in the script and mise-en-scène demonstrates a thoughtfulness and depth in the short which was impressive.
A bit more attention could have been paid to the lighting though. Some sequences seemed slightly underlit but that said, the visuals are suitably cinematic and well composed by cinematographer Elliot Wallis. Ironically the moment Maggie finds Woden in the woods could have actually been darker which would have added a scary presence to the monster and his minions. Perhaps even a night-time shoot in the snow. Not easy to arrange granted.
Geena Dinnis provides some great make-up on Woden but the monster required a little better sound mixing as the fantastic voice is undercut by some poor syncing.
Back to the story, Maggie is then hunted herself, hiding behind tress and branches in the woods and I won’t spoil any ending here there’s a bit of black comedy as the two sisters cross paths in an emotional conclusion.
There’s plenty to recommend about Wild Hunt though. The narrative strands hang together like an exquisite set of fairy lights. And the mix of old and new traditions are an excellent addition to the fable being told. Bringing Christmas back to its tribal roots, Wild Hunt is a very successful and sinister short. And this frightful festive film has all the necessary trimmings which makes it a hugely satisfying dark delight.