Anyone who has spent any time perusing our site knows that here at Movie Ramblings towers we are big fans of the new wave of talent forging their way through the British horror scene – the likes of Liam Regan, Damon Rickard and Chelsey Burdon to name a few.

Well, we have a new name to add to the list, as stepping out of the shadows comes Catherine Stepien, turning her hand at directing for the first time with occult short Soul Mother.

Stepien has plenty of experience in the genre already to her name, having worked on the likes of Banjo, Rats and Dead Bitch! over the past few years.

But this is very much Stepien’s coming out party, having acted as both writer and director on the project.

Here’s the film’s synopsis:

When grieving mother Belle hits rock bottom, the mysterious Ivy comes into her life and seems to offer her a solution, a chance to be reborn and start afresh. She offers Belle a unique service, an ancient tradition that has the power to transform lives. But at what cost?
Soul Mother is a powerful story of grief and new beginnings that dares to ask the question: how close must we get to death in order to truly appreciate life?

 

We’ve got the intriguing teaser trailer below for you to enjoy, but first here’s Stepien herself on just what we can expect from her mystic opus:

With Soul Mother, I set out to prove that you can make a short film of good quality with a minimal budget and a strong, but small team. The writing process began with a key prop which I had at my disposal; a coffin, and I built the story around that. What sort of characters could have a coffin in their own home and what would they use it for? I’ve always taken a strong interest in folklore and I began to research stories of fake funerals and the psychology of near death experiences. The story of Ivy and her coffin based rituals grew from there.

With suicide rates rising and depression and mental illness moving to the forefront of societal discussion I was keen to explore the lengths that some people may feel they need to go to in order to heal, to become reborn. Many turn to God, or some kind of spiritual guidance in their times of crisis in the hope that it will help them find the inner strength that they need to continue. When these worlds collide; desperate people searching for hope in a
higher power, and mysterious practitioners with some unorthodox methods, the door is opened to a wealth of storytelling possibilities; Soul Mother being just one of them.

In my work as a Production Designer, I’ve often felt that it is a craft that is overlooked and undervalued. It was important to me to get the visual elements of Soul Mother right and to create a realistic world for my characters to inhabit, when Ivy descends the stairs into her basement, she is leading her ‘clients’ into a world of mysticism that fuses typical religious iconography with the occult. I’ve always enjoyed a sense of illusion in cinema and Ivy is a
master of that. I intentionally left some questions unanswered in Soul Mother, the exact nature of Ivy’s power and her heritage are not dwelled upon as I was keen to leave blanks for the audience to fill in for themselves.

After being a horror fan for over 30 years, it feels great to have created something of my own within the genre. I particularly adore films from the 80’s and have continued to collect VHS tapes from that era. My inspirations for Soul Mother are varied but I would say that I have always been drawn to the work of David Lynch and films with organic themes. I do feel like there is scope to develop Ivy’s story further but at this stage I am keen to see how
audiences respond to Soul Mother whilst pursuing other outlets for my creative interests.

Burdon’s gruesome paws are still all over this, with Chelsey acting as producer under her Final Grrrl production banner.

On the acting front, the likes of Danielle Parton (Belle), Julie Root (Ivy), Katie Eleanor Dawson (Barbara) and Christopher Evans (Coffin Man) take centre stage, with Root in particular having an interesting story to tell, having been a former acting tutor for Jodie ‘Doctor Who’ Whittaker.

Further gloss looks set to be added by cinematographer Kev Harte, while Thomas Ragsdale provides the score, fresh from his work on Dominic Brunt’s Frightfest favourites Bait and Before Dawn.

Prepped and now being offered up for festival selection, it’s safe to say we are really looking forward to this one.

Check out the trailer below to see just why:

 

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.