The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw is another solid addition to the list of religious horror films. In the past, films like The Witch have set the bar for what to expect from this subgenre. The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw isn’t without its flaws, but it’s another beautiful witch tale. A haunting tale about a devout community trying to rip apart a mother and daughter.
Folk horror has been a major staple for the genre these past years. Recently, Ari Aster’s Midsommar was the last major film to leave audiences feeling soulless. This year, The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw joins in on the fun. What makes this film so engaging, is its stellar lead performance and just how the horror unravels very slowly. Directed and written by Thomas Robert Lee, the film stars Catherine Walker, Sean McGinley, David LeReaney, Jessica Reynolds, Hannah Anderson, and Don Mckellar. The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw is set in a religious village where a mother and daughter are expected of witchcraft. A deadly plague has been removing all the crops and livestock, and these two are the unfortunate prime suspects.
Agatha (Walker) and Audrey (Reynolds) Earnshaw are our central characters, Audrey was born during an event that occurred prior to the film, the eclipse. The circumstances of her birth are what lead to the drama regarding witchcraft. During this eclipse, a disease of sorts kills the soil and some residents in town. The Earnshaw’s were the only residence to be left unharmed, and that sparks the rumblings in town. In fact, Agatha has hidden Audrey from the town for the last seventeen years because of these dreadful circumstances. Audrey is indeed a witch, and the reception her mother receives from the townsfolk only makes matters worse. This script effectively establishes the awful upbringing Audrey has had to endure and the sacrifices her mother makes to keep her daughter safe. Agatha’s an outcast, and Lee does a terrific job at making you feel for this character’s situation.
Lee does enough with the narrative to suck you into this sense of hopelessness. The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw features an opening text to catch viewers up on what’s happening, but that seems to be pointless in the end. The resolution to the witchcraft occurring does involve a deal being made with the devil, but The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw leaves stuff for the viewer to interpret. The performances from everyone are strong, but Reynold’s portrayal of Audrey is one of this year’s best. Of course, not every character involved is fully developed, but these gut-wrenching performances make up for that. Reynold’s is fantastic as this young teenage girl, who just wants her mother to stand up for herself, as she views her as weak for letting the town mistreat her for all this time. Reynolds will have audiences fixed on her every move just like her character has the people in town who threaten her life, or wrong her mother.
The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw stumbles slightly in its narrative. Very little is known about the townspeople to understand whether or not they truly deserve this suffering. Perhaps, diving into these characters a bit more would have justified some actions in the film. Still, Lee has crafted a very engaging film that makes you ask questions, but perhaps more should have been given at times. The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw will cause discomfort, it’s familiar territory, but Lee does a great job keeping you invested throughout. It features a chilling score that adds emotion to Audrey’s terrifying scenes, and beautiful cinematography as well.
While not something that many will find refreshing, The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw is a solid witch tale about a town gone to hell. It doesn’t offer any unique scenarios we haven’t already been exposed to, but it’s just yet another effective folk horror film. The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw is fine for what it is, and fans of the genre will find something to enjoy from it.