This is a strange, but strangely compelling, mystery drama film. You can’t really call it a horror film, as it doesn’t have all that much horror in it, but at first or second glance you could be forgiven for thinking it’s a folk horror movie, as it definitely contains elements of same. Confused? You said it, lol. Let’s have a look at the plot…

We’re in a posh girls’ day school in England in 1969, where the beautiful Abbie, played by Florence MIDSOMMAR Pugh in her rather impressive acting debut, is best friends with Lydia, who’s not quite such a raving beauty.

The blonde Abbie is at the age where she’s starting to explore her sexuality, so she has sex with Lydia’s brother Kenneth (never Ken!) to try to dislodge a pregnancy that’s been implanted in her womb by another boy. Lydia is, understandably, jealous of her friend’s popularity with the lads. She needn’t worry. Kenneth Never Ken is as happy to have sex with his sister as he is to copulate with Abbie…

We never once see Abbie’s parents, and I can’t help thinking that if they’d been a little more present in their daughter’s life, she might never have gotten into quite such a pickle. As it is, the kids in this film seem to be able to come and go as they please without any kind of parental interference whatsoever, except for rare interventions by Lydia’s mum, Eileen.

Eileen is an interesting character. Played by Maxine Peake, who portrayed Myra Hindley in the absolutely superb television drama about the Moors Murders, SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL, Eileen is an agoraphobic single parent who runs a hairdressing business from home.

Her husband is out of the picture and her children, Lydia and Kenneth Never Ken, seem to mostly do what they like. Lydia in particular gives her poor mum a ton of verbal abuse, especially about her agoraphobia, but Eileen has her own perfectly sensible reasons for not wanting to leave the house…

Anyway, after Abbie has sex with Kenneth, she starts having strange fainting fits. Soon, Lydia and the other teenaged girls at the school are all having these fits of fainting, in which they all swoon elegantly and artistically to the floor without ever hurting themselves or braining themselves off table corners and things like that.

It’s like a choreographed ballet of fainting, an orgy of delicate swooning that drives the headmistress Miss Alvaro and her second-in-command, Miss Mantel played by Greta Scaachi, batty with anger and exasperation. They become especially irked when the school has to be shut down after a mass fainting fit during a special assembly.

Neither the head nor Miss Mantel are prepared to believe any explanation for the fainting fits other than, one, the girls are faking it for the laugh, or, two, the girls are being unduly influenced by Lydia, Abbie’s best friend and sidekick. Lydia is acting out for reasons she’s unsure of, but a good therapist, and I don’t mean the snobby toff attached to the hospital, could probably help her to work it out.

Instead of feeling compassionate towards the greatly disturbed Lydia or trying to help her, however, Miss Alvaro decides to expel the unfortunate teenager. It’s then up to the psychiatrist treating the remaining girls to decipher whether their fainting fits are caused by a surfeit of female hormones or hormone imbalance coupled with menstruation and the onset of sexuality, or whether a thing called ‘mass hysteria’ could possibly be at work here, and the girls are picking up the ‘infection’ or the ‘bug’ from each other.

It could also be a sort of mass demonic possession, couldn’t it? The teenage girl is more likely to be susceptible to this type of thing than any other age group, due to hormones and changes in their bodies and maybe even a general propensity for drama and such. That’s just one theory, anyway.

The director here is clearly channelling PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK, the floatiest, dreamiest mystery film about missing schoolgirls ever to hit the big screen. The school in THE FALLING has a lake and the most dazzling scenery, forestry, little hidden wooded paths and other natural charms on its very doorstep, giving rise to the notion that here be folk horror, and the girlies read poetry by choice, listen to music and draw and paint to their little hearts’ content. All the subjects guaranteed to arouse romance, glamour, sex and romantic longing in young girls.

If something floaty, dreamy and utterly mysterious doesn’t happen to the girls in this film, then I don’t know who it would happen to. Teenage girls are always doing something weird, whether it’s going for a Picnic at Hanging Rock and getting lost in the Rock or mass-fainting in a delightfully artistic pile of arms and legs and long, long swathes of hair in The Falling. Personally, I wouldn’t mind getting lost in the Rock myself, as long as that Rock was the former wrestler and now actor, Dwayne the Rock Johnson, but that’s another matter…

Guys probably won’t dig this flick, what with its being artsy and slow-moving and quiet and such-like. But women will like it, and fans of PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK will like it, so it will have its fans.

The Rock, good old Dwayne Johnson himself, probably won’t like it because it’s a movie where no-one really punches anyone or throws someone out of a speeding car whilst punching them in double time, but don’t you worry your head about that. There are plenty of other films out there for the Rock to enjoy. He’s gonna be all right…  


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

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