SEE NO EVIL: THE MOORS MURDERS. (2006) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

myra maureen

SEE NO EVIL: THE MOORS MURDERS. (2006) BASED ON TRUE EVENTS.

DIRECTED BY CHRISTOPHER MENAUL. WRITTEN BY NEIL MCKAY.

STARRING SEAN HARRIS, MAXINE PEAKE, JOANNE FROGGATT, MATTHEW MCNULTY, GEORGE COSTIGAN , SUSAN TWIST AND JOHN HENSHAW.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Does a dog have a soul…?’

This one originally aired on ITV over the course of two nights in 2006, and I’d say there was hardly a family in the whole of England and Ireland that wasn’t glued to it. I was watching it myself and I thought it was phenomenally well done, despite the horrific subject matter. Having re-visited it recently as a two-hour-and-seventeen-minute film, the impact was no less powerful.

It’s the story of the infamous Moors Murders as seen through the eyes of Myra Hindley’s younger sister Maureen, whom Myra called Mo or Moby and genuinely seemed to love, if such a cold-hearted woman could be deemed capable of love.

It’s 1963 and the death of her baby Angela Dawn with David Smith, her young husband, sees a distraught Maureen turning to her older sister Myra for comfort. A side-effect of Myra and Maureen’s spending more time together is that David Smith and Ian Brady are thrown together a lot too.

At first, David isn’t terribly keen on Ian, an egotistical show-off proud of his high intellect and the fact that he’s well-read. Ian loves an audience. He spouts a lot of nonsense about philosophy, relativism (whatever that is) and existentialism that goes right over Dave’s head at first. As it did mine, I must say.

Gradually Ian, with his narrow, pinched-looking nose and cruelly thin lips, gets inside Dave’s head. He gives Dave books to read by the Marquis de Sade, books that Ian has studied carefully himself along with books on Nazi ideology and Nazi atrocities.

Dave finds himself reading about the rape and physical abuse and torture of young women, but his wife Maureen tells him that she can’t understand how either he, Dave, or Ian for that matter, can get their kicks out of reading about men beating and/or raping women. We don’t know what Dave makes of all this but it’s pretty obvious how Ian feels on the subject.

Ian and David plan a bank robbery together, unknown to Maureen but not to Myra, who will drive their getaway car. (Ian doesn’t drive, you see.) They take guns out onto the nearby Saddleworth Moor for shooting practice.

The four young people, Ian, Myra, Maureen and Dave, spend a lot of time out on the beautiful wild Moors because it’s Ian’s and Myra’s favourite place. Maureen is heard to remark that she doesn’t know what they see in the cold, windy expanse of grass and muck.

I can certainly see the attraction of moors, they’re wild and windy and gloriously sort of primeval as in Emily Bronte’s WUTHERING HEIGHTS, but these moors in particular are hiding Ian and Myra’s grim secrets.

During a drunken conversation between Ian and David, Ian reveals that he has killed people in the past and, what’s more, that David has unwittingly stood on their graves out on the Moors. Dave doesn’t know what to believe at first. Then he decides that it’s all just big talk on Ian’s part as usual. He’s a boaster and a show-off, after all.

Dave changes his mind when Ian entices a young man called Edward Evans back to his and Myra’s council house which they share with Myra’s old grandmother. In front of Dave’s eyes, Ian murders Edward Evans with an axe. Afterwards, he coldly orders Myra and Dave to clean up the blood.

Dave, feeling like he’s in a nightmare, does what Ian orders him to do before stumbling home in the early hours of the morning, sick and frightened, to a sleeping Maureen.

In the morning, the terrified pair go to the police, which was a pretty brave thing to do on their part. Maureen was reluctantly ‘shopping’ her beloved sister, and Dave was risking the wrath of a man he was obviously very afraid of, that is, Ian. Their action was the catalyst that broke the horrible state of affairs that became known as the ‘Moors Murders’ case wide open…

Maureen and Dave can’t believe it when Ian and Myra are arrested for the murders of missing local young people Lesley Ann Downey, John Kilbride and now Edward Evans, whose body was recovered by the police in Ian and Myra’s council house the day after his brutal murder.

The bodies of Lesley Ann Downey and John Kilbride were discovered buried out on Saddleworth Moors. George Costigan (Bob in RITA, SUE AND BOB TOO) is brilliant here as DCI Joe Mounsey, the careworn detective who never gave up hope of finding little John Kilbride and who, in fact, was the one to first uncover the little boy’s lonely resting place.

Ian and Myra were each sentenced to life in prison for these three murders. It wasn’t until much later that they confessed to the murders of Pauline Reade and little Keith Bennett.

The latter had broken his glasses the day before he was murdered and so he went to his death not being able to see properly, a fact which haunted his poor mother and which makes his fate all the more devastatingly poignant.

The evil couple, who nicknamed each other Neddie and Hessie (Neddie after a character in THE GOON SHOW and Hessie after British pianist Myra Hess) were reviled for all time after the details of their heinous actions became known to the public.

The tape made by the couple of Lesley Ann Downey begging and pleading for her life and the pornographic photos they took of her did nothing to endear them to the courts. Their addiction to documenting their gruesome activities was at least part of their undoing.

It was even Ian and Myra’s habit to get all incriminating materials out of the house before they committed another murder, so if the police came round they’d find nothing out of the ordinary. The level of premeditation here is quite extraordinary.

They packed everything up into two suitcases which they placed in the left-luggage section of Manchester Central Railway Station. When the police found a couple of these ‘treasure-troves’ after Ian and Myra were arrrested, let’s just say that they now had a lot more evidence to go on…

Maureen and Dave, with another baby on the way, attempted to rebuild their own lives but the public wouldn’t let them forget who they were and the couple had a long way to go to find peace, if they ever did. They were hugely affected by the fallout from the Moors Murders.

Maureen did in 1980 of a brain haemorrhage, twenty-two years before her born-again Catholic sister Myra passed away in custody, the short peroxide blonde hairstyle, no longer her trademark, replaced by her own longish, natural brown hair.

Ian Brady lingered on till 2017, somewhat bearing out the old Irish saying that ‘you can’t kill a bad thing.’ The absolute secrecy surrounding his cremation and the scattering of his ashes in the sea will tell you just how reviled a person he remained even until after his death.

Maxine Peake does an excellent job here of portraying Myra, one of the most hated women in Britain ever. Not only does she look like her but she plays her as she apparently really was, surly, secretive, unco-operative and stand-offish.

The real Myra didn’t do herself any favours with her unhelpful, abrasive attitude towards the police, and certainly there was at least one set of parents of the Moors Murders victims who died without knowing where their child- Keith Bennett, the smiley-faced boy who broke his glasses- was buried. To this day I believe his remains are still somewhere out on the Moor.

This drama serial handles the explosive material with sensitivity and compassion. The film-makers are careful not to distress the parents and families of the victims any more than they already have been. Some of the relatives helped Neil McKay, the writer, with his research. It’s a grim subject, maybe one of the grimmest, but it needed to finally be told.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-and-movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ 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:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

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RITES OF SPRING/THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE: A DOUBLE BILL OF HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS.

emily-roseRITES OF SPRING/THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE: A TERRIFYING DOUBLE BILL OF SUPERNATURAL HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

RITES OF SPRING. (2011) DIRECTED BY PADRAIG REYNOLDS. STARRING A.J. BOWEN, KATHERINE RANDOLPH, ANESSA RAMSEY, MARCO ST. JOHN AND JEFF NATIONS.

THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE. (2006) DIRECTED BY SCOTT DERRICKSON. STARRING LAURA LINNEY, TOM WILKINSON AND JENNIFER CARPENTER.

This is a pairing of horror films which I always associate with each other because I first watched them at around the same time. They’re both top-notch horror films which I re-visit every year, and always one after the other, usually RITES OF SPRING followed by EMILY ROSE.

Let’s take a closer look at them, starting, appropriately enough, with RITES OF SPRING. Although you wouldn’t think it with the cold, the wind and the sleet, it is in fact Spring, a time for snowdrops and daffodils, green shoots and… the most hideous of human sacrifices…

There are two storylines running concurrently in this American horror movie directed by an Irishman, RITES OF SPRING. Firstly, we have a small group of criminals who are planning to kidnap a rich man’s little daughter in order to ransom her for the pay-off of a lifetime.

The kidnapping goes to plan up to a point, but blood is shed during the home invasion and the kidnappers are forced to bring along an extra hostage they hadn’t bargained on. They bring both their hostages to an old abandoned school miles from anywhere and wait for the pay-off to arrive…

The other storyline is bloody terrifying. Two attractive young women are abducted by a strange old man. They wake up to find themselves suspended from hooks in an old dump of a shed out in the countryside somewhere.

The old man keeps popping in to cut them with knives or cut their clothing off their trembling bodies. He keeps asking them if they’re ‘clean’ but, just in case they’re not, he’s got a bucket of water and a bristly sponge handy. Eeeep…!

As if that wasn’t scary enough, the viewers get the distinct impression that a human sacrifice of some kind is just around the corner. And who- or what- is the old man keeping prisoner underneath the locked trapdoor? And what does the man need the girls’ blood for?

When the two storylines spectacularly collide, a chase begins that always puts me in mind of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and SWITCHBLADE ROMANCE, among others. The folk horror element will probably remind you somewhat of THE WICKER MAN.

The chase in the second half of the film is tense with some truly shocking moments. Even the cover of the DVD box is super-sexy, picturing a naked woman suspended from a rope and silhouetted against the night sky while in the background looms a dilapidated old barn.

THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE is based on true events which, when I researched ’em briefly online, scared the living daylights out of me. The film is part courtroom drama and part horror, the horror being told in terrifying flashbacks. Though it’s naturally not a patch on William Friedkin’s THE EXORCIST, the Mammy and Daddy of exorcism films, it’s still a brilliant and really watchable horror story.

Laura Linney plays Erin Bruner, a high-flying barrister whose job it is to defend a priest called Father Richard Moore, who’s played by wonderful English actor Tom Wilkinson (THE FULL MONTY, IN THE BEDROOM).

He’s accused of bringing about the death through negligence of a beautiful young woman with everything to live for called Emily Rose. How, you might ask, did he do this? As we’re told in flash-backs, he performed an exorcism on the girl with the full consent of her worried parents because she’d exhibited signs of demonic possession. These included contortions of her body, speaking in strange languages and seeing horrible visions of demonic faces, among other things.

The lawyers prosecuting poor old Father Moore are maintaining that the girl was anorexic and that she had epilepsy coupled with psychosis. These conditions, they claim, neatly cover all of Emily’s symptoms. Erin Bruner, on the other hand, attempts to convince the sceptical court of the existence of demonic possession, because that’s what Father Moore and Emily’s devastated parents truly believe was the root of Emily’s terrifying experiences.

The scenes in which Emily first notices the demonic influences around her are really scary. So are the ones in which Father Moore and Erin Bruner both feel the demonic presence close by in the dead of night (at 3am, to be precise, the REAL witching hour) and the ones where the priest bravely attempts to rid the girl of the evil spirits that plague her.

Emily’s bodily contortions are super-freaky and all real and not computerised, from what I can make out. They’ll put the willies up you big-time. I could have done without the gold initialled locket in the snow and maybe even the stigmata as well, but otherwise, this is a really scary film that you shouldn’t watch just before going to bed because it’ll give you the worst nightmares you’ve ever had.

But do watch it if you can. Even if you think that exorcisms and demonic possession are just a load of old hogwash from the movies, there are plenty of people who don’t agree. Even if you’re determined to remain a hardened sceptic, at least try to keep an open mind. After all, there are more things in Heaven and Earth and so on, aren’t there…?

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ 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:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor