To Fire You Come At Last - FrightFest European Premiere
Director: Sean Hogan
Starring: Mark Carlisle, Harry Roebuck, Richard Rowden, James Swanton, Stephen Smith
Written by: Sean Hogan
Produced by: Evrim Ersoy
Cinematography by: Paul Goodwin, Jim Hinson
Original Score by: Timothy Fife, Renato Montenegro
In rural 17th-century England, a group of men gather to carry a coffin on the long walk to the local graveyard for burial.
Sean Hogan's fantastically eerie mid length feature film is a wonderful tribute to classic British folk horror films of the 60s and 70s. Shot in glorious black and white with gloomy shadows and menacing lighting, 'To Fire You Come At Last' is a darkly humorous and suspenseful throwback that I wanted to keep watching after the credits began to appear. Also, what a fucking title!
Squire Marlow (Mark Carlisle), a man of some importance, wants to give his son Aldis a Christian funeral and has tasked three other men to help him carry his son's coffin to the nearest burial site, which is some distance away. The group, comprising of Pike the manservant (Richard Rowden), Holt the village carpenter (Harry Roebuck) and Ransley the local drunken fool (James Swanton), all must accompany the grieving father Marlow along the only route to the Church, which just happens to be shrouded in mysterious, ancient folklore and superstitious ghost stories.
After some hesitation (and an agreement by Marlow to double their wages) the group eventually decide to make haste along the haunted highway but as the night draws in a darkness invites itself into the men's company and sinister revelations begin to materialise that threaten the integrity of the group's mission.
You can tell Sean Hogan has excellent writing experience. He is an acclaimed author of several highly rated books and the co-creator (with the legendary Kim Newman) of the anthology plays 'The Hallowe’en Sessions' and its follow-up 'The Ghost Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore', which he also directed on the West End. The script for this one is spot on and the dialogue especially feels acutely authentic. There's a little bit of 'The League of Gentlemen' lunacy going on here particularly in Mark Carlisle's performance.
Carlisle, Rowden and Roebuck are all good, if trying a little too hard at times, but James Swanton is the absolute stand out for sure. His broad Northern English accent is equal part hilarious and perversely unsettling. It's like he's stepped right off the set of 'Emmerdale' or 'Coronation Street' and although he does provide some comedy respite, not for a second does he feel like parody. His cadence in which he delivers Sean Hogan's eloquently assembled words is terrifying at times. I want to see more of James Swanton on my screen in the future.
- Gavin Logan
'To Fire You Come At Last' received it's European Premiere at FrightFest '23 on August 26th