Digging Up Spooky Roots

“Folk horror” as a subgenre has gained increasing recognition of late, in part because of the efforts of Facebook groups like Folk Horror Revival. The major players in that community operate, among various other projects, Wyrd Harvest Press, a self-publishing umbrella for various folk horror-relevant materials; Wyrd Harvest’s repertoire includes the Folk Horror Revival journal series, of which Field Studies represents the first entry.

Now in its second edition and edited by a cross-section of members of the Facebook group, Field Studies offers a range of essays, interviews, and other snippets on the general subject of the folk horror subgenre, coming across much like a genre-specific take on Strange Attractor.

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Out On a Limb

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

It took Robin Hardy until 2011 until he could turn out a sequel to folk horror classic The Wicker Man in the form of The Wicker Tree. To be frank, it’s not great. Supposedly it had a budget of over seven million dollars, though if this is so then for most of its running time that money simply isn’t evident onscreen, with the production values seeming more in keeping with a simple TV movie than anything fancier and a cast of comparative unknowns and reasonably skilled but not especially exciting character actors. (There’s a cameo from Christopher Lee, mind, but he was unable to undertake a more extensive role due to an injury.)

As far as the plot goes, it’s the exact same thing as The Wicker Man without the kidnapping angle to tie everything together. Beth Boothby (Brittania Nicol) used to be a wild and extremely sexualised pop-country star in the US of A, but she’s flinched back from that past, adopted a new gospel-country style, and got back together with her childhood sweetheart Steve Thompson (Henry Garrett). Their backwater Texas church sends them on an evangelical mission to Scotland, they fall in with pagan masterminds Sir Lachlan Morrison (Graham McTavish) and Lady Delia Morrison (Jacqueline Leonard), who convince them that preaching door-to-door in the towns won’t do any good and they’ll have better luck coming out to the countryside village the Morrisons preside over, particularly since it will be a nice opportunity for them to partake in the May Day festivities. By this point you should have guessed where this is going.

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