Wheelchair-bound and suffering from amnesia, January (Amy Manson) is forced to return to her childhood home following a motorcycling accident abroad. Having been away for six years and unable to remember any of her family, she struggles to adjust to her family’s way of life. When her adoring boyfriend, Callum (Simon Quarterman) mysteriously leaves, it soon becomes clear all is not as it seems.

Cinematographer turned director, Adam Levins, debuts his first feature film, Estranged – a creepy, sadistic, horror which proves just how bad moving back in with your parents can be.

The film opens to January and her boyfriend, blissfully enjoying the sights of Brazil on their motorbike when a speeding car hits them, causing severe, life changing injuries to only January. With no memory of her past life, Callum and she are forced to return to the British countryside where she discovers her family take residence in a stately mansion. Having been introduced to her brother (James Lance), sister (Nora-Jane Noone), parents (played by James Cosmo and Eileen Nicholas) and their butler (Craig Conway), January struggles to adapt to her surroundings. Following Callum’s sudden exit from the premises, January begins to notice the distance she feels from her family may not just be in her head. As her health improves, her flashbacks gradually begin to piece together a more sinister truth.

The horror element of Estranged does not so much as present itself on a plate, but instead plants seeds of doubt in our minds – cleverly using suggestion to install fear. Though it isn’t until almost half way through the film that the real horror unmasks itself, there is an ever-present uncertainty and discomfort as a spectator. For the majority of the film, we are left to ponder if January’s accident is the root of her mental instability or if her family are truly what they seem. The unveiling of this, however, is a little slow. Unfortunately for us, the build-up is moderate and this can be said to void the original suspense which engaged us in the first place.

Suddenly out of nowhere then, comes half an hour of sadistic horror. Though the terror itself is mostly suggested, and little of the events are shown graphically, the suggestion of it can be far more powerful and tastefully done.

Though sometimes slow in pace, the twisted story, eventual plot development and characters certainly compensate. Cosmo provides an excellent performance alongside Manson for which the film owes a great deal of its success. Despite a narrative dip in the middle, Estranged features some excellent horror writing. It is haunting, well shot and is a worthy watch.


Frightfest London review: Estranged
3.0Overall Score
Reader Rating: (9 Votes)

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Sophie is a film blogger from South London with a degree in Film Theory and Major Production. Sophie currently works in digital marketing but in her spare time you'll find her writing reviews or at the cinema. Sophie loves all things Star Wars and Hollywood but having specialized in the Horror genre, monsters are her first love. She'll watch absolutely anything given the chance - you can find her also on her blog, http://www.popcornandglitter.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/sophieathawes