Directed by: Russell Owen
Distributed by: Saban Films
Written by Jeff Sparks
“Shepherd” is a new film by writer and director Russell Owen that stars Tom Hughes, Kate Dickie, Gaia Weiss, and Greta Scacchi. Hughes plays Eric Black, a grieving man who chooses to take up work as a shepherd on a desolate island while he struggles to come to terms with the death of his cheating wife. On the island, he works alongside a mysterious woman while he begins to have nightmarish visions and loses his mind. In terms of atmosphere and tone, this feels like another one of those post “The Witch” films that try to capture that feeling that Robert Eggers gave off with that film. Others include “Hagazussa,” “The Ritual,” “The Other Lamb,” and so on. Although all these films try to capture that dark and gloomy paranoia-filled atmosphere of “The Witch,” they all have their own identity. Unlike those films, “Shepherd” does not have much of an identity and relies heavily on the atmosphere and the performances.
The atmosphere works well but remains the same for the entirety of the film with not much to differentiate each scene, which brings me to my next point. Many of the scenes here are what you’ve seen before. There have been plenty of films where a man is isolated and has scary visions that cause him to question his sanity. There isn’t much to make this stand out from the pack, especially if you’ve seen any of the similar films I mentioned previously. The one thing that did leave an impression on me from this film was the performances by the small cast. Our lead man Tom Hughes does fine, but the memorable performance here is from the always great Kate Dickie although she isn’t in the film much. In it, she plays Fisher, a stoic, peculiar woman who is the only other worker on the island with our main character Eric Black. It’s obvious right away this woman is not who she says she is and that something sinister lurks beneath her stony demeanor. The chilling way Dickie delivers her lines made me want to see more of her. Instead, Russell Owen holds her close to his chest because he knows she’s the only trick he has up his sleeve.
“Shepherd” is on VOD.