The plot concerns the running aground and wrecking of a convict ship on the rocks surrounding said lighthouse. A mixed bag of convicts and guards survive and struggle to the shore, one of which is the insane Leo Rook who helped to sink the ship in the first place and who now needs to kill every single one of them to make sure that his past is never discovered and he can run free. Since he has a collection of severed heads, the crew are unsurprisingly not keen on this. Spader, the leader of the survivors and his team pitch up in the lighthouse and use that as their base which is under siege from the demented killer.
This British thriller has a great cast, as well as James Purefroy as Spader, it features Rachel Shelley, Don Warrington and Paul Brooke, all fine actors in their own right who work well together in this ensemble piece. Don’t get me wrong, this is a straightforward slasher flick as Rook goes on his inevitable orgy of death and destruction and the intermittent flashing of the lighthouse helps to build a tremendous sense of suspense and atmosphere. The lighting should be singled out for special praise incidentally, as sometimes it’s simply beautiful, almost evoking echoes of German Expressionism. Though made on a low budget with arts Council funding, the film really makes the best use of what it has and the production values often transcend their origins.
On the downside, the characters are a little one dimensional, falling easily into cliché but they are well enough written and performed to still make us care when they are gruesomely dispatched. The dialogue is also lacking that spark which would set the film as another notch above the more usual slasher fare and it does seem occasionally as if the writer lost the plot slightly but the set pieces more than make up for any minor deficiencies and the whole film hangs together well, cracking along at a good pace and never becoming boring.
The score has a great retro quality to it that suits the movie really well and the cinematography is nicely understated and gritty, lending a realism to the situation. However it’s most worth watching for the performance of Charles Adamson who really gets his teeth into the role of the mad killer Rook and gives a performance that will have you riveted to every scene he is in. Definitely one to watch.
Director: Simon Hunter
Cast: James Purefoy, Rachel Shelley, Christopher Adamson, Paul Brooke, Don Warrington, Christopher Dunne, Bob Goody, Pat Kelman