Written and directed by, as well as starring, Richard Markworth and John Whitaker, a conman hopes to reinvigorate his career as a paranormal investigator by taking advantage of the recent disappearance of a young woman in the local haunted woods. Also starring: Alan Austen, Simon Pritchard, Chris Fenton, Emily Ayson and Alfie L. Fenton.
The handheld style, woodland setting and supernatural themes all feel distinctly influenced by found footage horrors, particularly The Blair Witch Project. It doesn’t go the whole hog and frame itself as found footage but it gets about as close as you can without crossing over. Flowers for the Dead quickly makes that impression of impending doom and death but then spends a surprisingly large portion of its 27-minute run time on a stationary conversation in a car. It feels like a misuse of time, it certainly achieves the goal of defining the obnoxious and repugnant qualities of its characters but it could have done the same thing in a much shorter time. It’s the key issue that the film struggles with, its story isn’t complex enough to balance with its length, it takes a long time to get to the real heart of its tale then doesn’t embrace it fully enough to be satisfying.
At times, the tone of the film almost feels like a parody, with touches like the conman’s pipe, and it prevents it from building up a suspense fitting for its supernatural theme. However, you can see the intention with its directorial style to feed into the air of suspicion and tension. There are some great attempts to vary the types of shots its using and Flowers for the Dead does take advantage of the woodland setting well. Occasionally it feels like it needed to adjust the angle or take a step back to avoid feeling overly close to its actors but it is a factor that’s common with this particular style so it’s more a matter of personal preference. The acting can feel slightly wooden but not so much that it becomes distracting.
Unfortunately because of the time it spends building up the character of its leads, the supernatural and horror elements feel second best and don’t get to take charge of atmosphere and story. The end result feels thin considering its 27-minutes and the way the time was used could have been improved for a more impactful or atmospheric film. There’s some touches of potential here and it’s a good, classic horror concept but the pieces don’t quite come together.