The Droving is a dark, intense, sinister well-crafted story.
The Droving is a folk horror thriller with a supernatural little twist. It has an intense and dark atmosphere while the elements of folk horror play out in the background. With full focus on the main character, his search for his missing sister and the gruesome truth, The Droving created a well-crafted tale that will keep you intrigued the whole time. It’s a very simple premise but delicately and intimately executed, resulting in an uncomfortable but interesting watch.
Martin, a soldier, returns to his hometown after his sister Megan went missing a year ago during a folk festival called The Droving. After he contacts Tess, a woman from Megan’s old hiking group he is set on a trail that will lead him to a gruesome truth.
Why you should watch it
While the storyline and premise is very simple and intimate it is pushed forward by Martin’s determined motivation. The focus is only on Martin and the camera is following him everywhere he goes. He carries the film on his shoulders and does it with great devotion.
His search for Megan, and how he accomplishes this is key to the story. By means of flashbacks during Christmas a year ago we get to know Megan and Martin a bit better. These flashbacks are subtle and intimate and describe in just a couple of scenes that play out during Christmas Eve, their relationship. When reading between the lines, little things that are done or said depict both characters and their relationship to each other in a very significant way.
Without giving away much about Martin’s character that slowly reveals himself during the search, something sinister lies beneath his nice guy exterior. He himself is the one who brings in the horror to the story.
Apart from Martin, only a few other characters are of importance and are functional to the story. There are no other characters or events that aren’t explicitly tied to the story and the mystery. There are no sidetracks to lead you away from the main storyline. There is only one main storyline, but that doesn’t mean it gets tedious, quite the opposite actually.
But there’s also a legend, a folk tale that whispers through Cumbria. The Merchant is an elusive figure who trades souls instead of cattle during The Droving. Although not explicitly elaborating more about this folklore it does give a hint of folk horror to the story. While at the background the festival with illuminated paper cattle walks through the town, the sinister part, the old pagan rituals are played out in the dark caves.
The beautiful landscape of Cumbria is shown in a serene way, almost in contrast to the determined and dark path Martin is on. The cinematography, the sparse but dreamlike use of music, the structure and the way the story develops and Martin’s character, together form a well-crafted story that excels in its simplicity making the film very intriguing and dark.
It’s a film that takes you along with Martin, a friend you think to know but who soon reveals his other side, which is scary and very well done. It’s a film that will make you feel uncomfortable and asks how far one should or is allowed to go in order to find out the truth or take revenge. But what comes after is the most important question.
My favorite part
I can’t tell you much, because I don’t like to spoil it for you. The mystery and the unraveling of what really happened is best to see for yourself, it’s after all what this film is all about. But I really was impressed by the subtle changes in personality that Martin showed. That was truly terrifying.
Also very smartly done is that the camera stays with Martin, so when he leaves a scene, we never know what happened to some people. It’s a daring choice, to leave things open and to fully focus on Martin, but it worked really well and added to the thrill of the story.
Finally the ending, well that was rather daring as well and it could maybe be a downer for some, but for me it was the cherry on the cake.
Thrill factor: ★★★☆☆
Originality factor: ★★★☆☆
Cast and crew
The Droving is directed and written by George Popov and cowritten by Jonathan Russell. It stars Daniel Oldroyd (Martin), Suzie Frances Garton (Tess), Amy Tyger (Megan), Jonathan Lawrence Risdon (The Hermit), Bobby Robertson (Simon) and George Popov (Alex).
Duration: 80 minutes. Music: Matthew Laming. Cinematography: Harry Young. Edited by: Bohos Topakbashian. Produced by: George Popov, Jonathan Russell.