After a cold open where a couple o’ vloggers get their asses handed to them by a murderous scarecrow, we dive right into the story proper of Old Man of the Rooks; namely a real black widow of a woman named Deb (Susan Willis) keeps murdering her spouses on her remote farmland along with the help of her brother Dan (David Barney). Well one of the dudes she done wrong was a Scottish warlock, and now roams the grounds as that aforementioned scarecrow who offers up blood sacrifices to a witch who dresses up like a crow (a very cool visual). Said scarecrow soon offs Dan and then begins playing mind games with ol’ Deadly Deb who is going to have one hell of a time stayin’ alive with so much supernatural shenanigans afoot on her property!
As you may surmise by the description above, Old Man of the Rooks has one major thing going for it; and that’s originality. This isn’t some by the numbers slasher flick, or simple ghost yarn; rather this is a film that tries to present it’s own unique mythology of ghosts, scarecrows, witches, warlocks, and murderers…pretty ambitious stuff for a low budget indie fright flick, and while everything that parades across the screen isn’t a complete success (more on that below), the storytelling is pretty on point. Also adding to the fun are some nice blood gags, costumes, and spirit effects.
But, as original as the narrative of this flick can be, there are some problems with the picture. Let’s start with that ol’ dreaded padded run time. Now to be fair, there is a lot of story to get across here, but at an hour and forty minutes, this picture definitely drags in spots. Also the directing and cinematography varies as the film goes from arc to arc, most likely due in part to the fact that the film had 15 directors and 16 writers…yeah, I have no clue either…this isn’t an anthology, and the while the film is broken into distinct segments, this leads to a disjointed feeling throughout. Finally, the acting is spotty as well, with some performances being rather strong (standouts for me were Willis and Caroline Grant as Tori) to others being amateur (or even baffling).
Bottom line, there is no denying that the small army of creators behind Old Man of the Rooks had their hearts in the right place, and actually have a love for the horror biz..not to mention that they definitely tried to give the viewer something different. With a slightly truncated run time and a bit more story editing this one could have become a regional horror cult classic…hell, it still may…in fact, I hope it does because I’d like to see more from the folks involved in this!
Aficionados of high quality independent horror, take note: Los Angeles's Screamfest® Horror Film Festival has...