A Gem Of Irish Horror: Dorothy Mills

Irish Horror - Dorothy Mills

The mighty nation of Ireland has a rich history of storytelling through many mediums such as traditional Irish music, literature and folklore. Did you know it was Ireland who produced great writers as Oscar Wilde, (The Picture of Dorian Gray), Bram Stoker (Dracula),  C.S.Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia,) and W.B.Yeats?

The British film industry is famed for its rom-coms, mainly courtesy of Richard Curtis, but it’s the Irish film industry I’m more interested in.  They are stealthily taking over the horror movie genre and it’s time to pay attention.

Recently there has been some top quality and uniquely Irish horror films coming out such as Wake Wood (2011), Byzantium (2012), Dark Touch (2013) and Cherry Tree (2015).

One of my personal favourites is Dorothy Mills (2008), directed by Agnês Merlet and starring Carice Van Houten (Melisandre from Game of Thrones,) and Jenn Murray.

It tells the tale of psychiatrist Jane Morton who is sent to a small Irish island to investigate the case of a young girl, Dorothy, who strangled a child in her care. It is clear from the offset that no one wants Jane meddling in island life and Jane soon falls under the suspicion that the islanders are hiding something from her.

Dorothy is an outcast on a small island where she is considered dangerous.  After all, she tried to kill a baby!  Yet Morton finds something inside her and is determined to help, unlike the locals who are strangely possessive of this special little child.

Irish Horror - Dorothy Mills

The last thing I want to do is drop some spoilers or reveal too much of the story, but what I will say is that this story just works so well. It’s like a series of puzzles strung together with twists in twists.  Just when you think you have solved a little mystery you find yourself deep in another one.

What really makes this film notable is it’s stellar cast.  Ireland really does have a plethora of incredible acting talent. The leading lady. Carice Van Houten, delivers a great performance alongside Jean Murray who plays Dorothy. You’ll also recognise a lot of faces in the supporting cast who each make their characters wholly believable and compelling.

Dorothy Mills for me is truly original, which can be hard to achieve in the horror genre of today.  It features many elements of some undoubted horror classics, such as my all time favourite The Wicker Man (1973) and The Exorcist (1973), but this film creates something wholly new.

This is a complex film whilst being completely engrossing. If you’re looking for a film that is outright terrifying, this isn’t it.  What it is, however, is intelligent, dark, creepy and unsettling, for it draws on one of the major truths of our world — that the source of most evils come from humankind, not eldritch things that go bump in the night.

Written by Sarah Budd (@sjbuddj)

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