8 begins with William (Breytenbach), Sarah (Beckmann) and daughter Mary (Luna) arriving at William’s father’s farm in South Africa. After settling in, Mary comes into contact with a mysterious man called Lazuras (Sebe). After this meeting Lazuras becomes a farm hand, whilst Sarah is very wary of him. The film makes the most from its South African setting, the cinematography in the film is beautiful, using the rural setting for some great looking shots in daytime and an excellent use of light during the night time scenes.
There are some deep themes running through 8 but the two main ones are guilt and grief (in many forms). There are a bunch of people in the film that are broken inside, they either put up walls or repress their sadness. These themes are the central to the film and are woven into the fabric of the story, along with a healthy dose of folklore and the supernatural. Whilst some of the writing is a little clunky, it still gives the film the impetus from one scene to the next and the acting is very good, especially from Sebe, who has a lot to do in the film.
Holscher has made a measured film that isn’t a jump scare heavy, blood pumping horror film. It is a quiet and increasingly unsettling horror film, that takes its time telling its story even if it does let its surprise out of the bag a bit too early in the film than it should have and in doing so it robs the film of some mystery and suspense. There is some telegraphing of future events but the film doesn’t take the easy way out and goes for a hard ending which is welcome. 8 is an ambitious film that succeeds more than it fails and is well worth seeking out when you can.
8 played as part of Fantasia Film Festival 2019
Ryan Morrissey-Smith | Twitter: @TigersMS78
Images: Rock Salt Releasing