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[Movie Review] Blood on Satan’s Paw (2017) ★★★★☆

Tommy looking at the tiny house in the forest in Blood on Satan's Paw 2017

Blood on Satan’s Paw is a surreal dark fairytale gem with its roots in British folklore.


Blood on Satan’s Paw is a supernatural dark fairytale horror with surreal images and a dark sinister atmosphere. With a duration of 70 minutes it’s either a short feature film or a very long short horror film. Either way with an estimated total budget of GBP1000, it manages to create an original and creative but very creepy vibe.

With beautiful shots, simple but very effective scares and an overall simple but dark premise, it brings to life a dark fairytale vibe. But the most exceptional part is the puppeteering that really adds to a creepy and surreal atmosphere. For those who love an imaginative tale, with minimum means creating a maximum effect, that solely is made with great creativity and artistic vision, this is a must-see.


Plot

It’s 1978 and Tommy goes into the woods looking for old coins and other buried treasures with his metal detector. This time he’s without his friend and he’s going to a part of the woods that holds special memories from when he was a kid. He once went there to play with his sister Grace who has been kidnapped or who disappeared years ago.

Now it seems he is taking a trip down memory lane, but it becomes all too literal and real when he finds her favorite toys buried in the earth. And that’s just the beginning of some weird events that all seem to lead to a creepy dangerous Mr Bones who looks like a bear and who might have something to do with Grace’s disappearance. Can Tommy get her back or is he too being lured into the woods, like a dark fairytale with no happy ending. 


Why you should watch it

Blood on Satan’s Paw is beautifully filmed. It has a strong sense of nature and that love that Tommy has for nature speaks through the shots and his own shots he takes with his super 8 camera. It totally captures the 70’s vibe of nature and is increased by the wonderful soundtrack by ‘Cunning Folk’ with electro music, dreamy guitars and sinister violins that really transport you back to that era. The cinematography is excellent and the sounds of nature are bringing a very folk-like view to it, mixing the serene and calm vibe of nature with an eerie unnatural feel. 

It’s a very visceral film with a surreal vibe and creepy images. Tommy is the only character and we follow him through he woods that has more to it, then can be seen with the naked eye. His faithful meal detector, his tape-recorder to tell all about his new found treasures or to recored the sound of a bullfinch add to the nostalgic and serene vibe. It’s also very functional and smartly used to tell the viewer more about what he’s thinking and his memories of the past with Grace, to add spoken words as a monologue to the story. His other trusty companion is his super 8 camera that might be his most powerful weapon in the woods, for the camera captures images that he can’t see with his own eyes. 

The use of the super 8 camera is brilliantly done. Not only provides it for nostalgic shots with a sepia summery coloring, but it also shows Mr Bones, the main antagonist of the film. The overall use of a camera as a perspective, is an important element in the film. Seen from the metal detector we actively search the earth, but other shots show Tommy seen from the metal detector, ambling through the woods. Even little treasures and toys get their own camera perspective when found and picked up. It’s playful and creates more variation.

While the story in itself is quite simple, the way it is shaped and does come to life in a fairytale-like way is just wonderfully done. Little toys are scattered around the forest, toys that either belonged to Grace or Tommy, even an old-fashioned phone with which they played as little kids, is buried and found and even rings urgently to be answered. Everywhere lollypops are sprouting from the earth, having a hallucinatory effect and fits right into that fairytale feel. 

But the most imaginative part is the addition of the puppets that put on a puppet show that is seen through the window of the tiny house with smoke coming from its little chimney. The puppets are really creepy and create an amazingly surreal vibe, explaining what happened many years ago to Grace. 

Slowly Tommy is lured by Mr Bones and his fairytale tricks to the house in the woods. It couldn’t have a more darker and fairytale-like ending that truly is terrifying. The trip through the woods, the memories slowly retrieved, the unsettling feeling a wild and deserted forest can conjure up, his slow descend into madness and fright, all add up to a wonderful tale for adults who love a great fairytale that is actually scary and disturbing. 


My favorite part

I thought it was a brilliantly put together trip of creepiness. I loved the creativity and the storytelling and the imaginative puppeteering. The little toys all by themselves abandoned in the woods were both tragic and scary at the same time. Mr Bones was, although just a man in a bear suit, really creepy, and managed to create an overall tensed vibe, when and where he would pop up next. The shots of nature were awesome and evenly fairytale-like. Henry Regan did a tremendous and believable job as lost Tommy who had to carry the whole film. 

Blood on Satan’s Paw is a hidden gem that deserves to be watched. 


Ratings

Rating: ★★★★☆

Scare factor: ★★★☆☆

Surreal factor: ★★★★★

Originality factor: ★★★★★

Entertainment factor: ★★★★★


Cast and crew

Blood on Satan’s Paw is directed and written by Richard Mansfield. It stars Henry Regan (Tommy), Richard Mansfield (Mr Bones).

Duration: 70 minutes. Music: Cunning Folk. Cinematography: Richard Mansfield. Puppeteers: Richard Mansfield, Mark Mander. Edited by: Richard Mansfield. Produced by: Richard Mansfield, Daniel Mansfield. Production company: Mansfield Dark. 


Check the trailer below


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