From brilliant director William “Brent” Bell comes a new tale of terror, the horror film Lord of Misrule, written by Tom de Ville. Before I watched it, I was already very familiar with Bell’s work, and I know you are, too. He is behind films such as The Boy, Brahms: The Boy 2, Orphan: First Kill, and the creepy-as-hell possession film The Devil Inside. Needless to say, I’ve come to expect a certain level of quality from Bell. I can honestly say Lord of Misrule did not disappoint. In my opinion, and I do not say this lightly, it is the filmmaker’s best film to date.
In Lord of Misrule, a Vicor, Rebecca, and her family have moved to a new town whose biggest celebration of the year is approaching. As the festival begins, the Vicor’s young daughter disappears, triggering Rebecca and her husband’s desperate search for the child, not knowing the horrible secrets the town hides.
The casting is fantastic. Tuppence Middleton stars as Rebecca and gives an absolutely incredible performance, making her character easy to identify with. Your heart beaks for her. Ralph Ineson’s Jocelyn Abney is an imposing villain who can manipulate the villagers with just a word. And when he opens his mouth, and you hear his incredible voice, I have to say I get it.
While the film is filled to the brim with desperation, panic, and terror, it is also about hope and a mother’s determination to be reunited with her child no matter what has to be done. And it will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.
The film, which looks stunning and rich, is lit with warm light and filled with shadows and darkness, and the cinematography by Simon Rowling (One Ranger) is incredible.
A film’s soundtrack is often overlooked even though it is a critical part of a film, quietly influencing how a viewer feels and the film’s atmosphere. The soundtrack for Lord of Misrule is genuinely unnerving. The deep tones of cellos combine in places with chants of the villagers and guttural sounds, which are guaranteed to induce a feeling of terror and dread.
I have to give major props to the costume department, led by Libby da Costa, which created many unique and creepy masks and haunting costumes. The film wouldn’t have been the same without them, which also goes for the special effects by Koala F.X.
Before watching it, you should know that ancient real-life celebrations inspired Lord of Misrule. Known as the Lord of Misrule in England and Abbot of Unreason in Scotland and France, the festival saw a person chosen to lead the “Feast of Fools” as well as Christmas celebrations and goes back in antiquity to at least 400 A.D. Sometimes, the person selected for the position was the village idiot, who was killed after the festivities ended. During the Tudor period, in John Stow’s Survey of London, published in 1603, a description of the Lord of Misrule was given (below).
In the feaste of Christmas, there was in the kinges house, wheresoeuer hee was lodged, a Lord of Misrule, or Maister of merry disports, and the like had yee in the house of euery noble man, of honor, or good worshippe, were he spirituall or temporall. Amongst the which the Mayor of London, and eyther of the shiriffes had their seuerall Lordes of Misrule, euer contending without quarrell or offence, who should make the rarest pastimes to delight the Beholders. These Lordes beginning their rule on Alhollon Eue [Halloween], continued the same till the morrow after the Feast of the Purification, commonlie called Candlemas day: In all which space there were fine and subtle disguisinges, Maskes and Mummeries, with playing at Cardes for Counters, Nayles and pointes in euery house, more for pastimes then for gaine.
This film takes that history and adds a supernatural twist, creating a fantastic, well-written, and expertly-timed story filled with emotion and horror.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, let me put this: Lord of Misrule is a “must-see.” You don’t have to wait to see it for yourself. It opened in select theaters and debuted on VOD on December 5. Be sure to check out our interview with Bell, who goes in-depth about the making of the film.