Simon Rumley, some of us may know that name and some may not. In the last few years this man has given us storytelling in a very odd way, whether it be the drama that goes very violent and gory Red White and Blue or the segment in Little Deaths called Bitch that really has to be seen to be believed, or his involvement in the ABCâ€™s of Death, Simon Rumley is really making a name for himself. While his style seems to have flashes of this director or that writer, one thing is for sure the man and his direction as the film goes on and the story on screen is being told it is very unpredictable as to where it is heading or how it could possibly end. That being said, I will admit I have never seen The Living and the Dead. I knew the film existed and know it has been out for quite a few years, but I never got around to seeing it. Well that has changed as of today, and I finally got to witness it, and like the above mentioned films this film is really fucked up and demented, and somehow or another I loved it and could not look away.
The story revolves around a English lord named Donald Brocklebank who lives and takes care of his ill wife Nancy in this old mansion. In addition to Nancyâ€™s health, they have a schizophrenic teenage son named James, who needs medication to stay calm. As you can guess, the rising cost of health care for his wife has made Donald go broke, and he is being left to maybe having to sell the mansion to take care of her. Well, Donald has to travel for business and hires Nurse Mary to take care of his ill wife, well that is where the film goes into that world that Simon loves to put us in. James decides to prove to his dad that he can take care of his own mother and he closes all the accesses to the house and he is locked inside with her. Well, he gives his mom an overdose of pills expecting her to heal and something else happens. In addition to this happening, now James is on the verge of making Donald as crazy as he is.
One thing is for sure, Simon knows how to tell a compelling story. You put an invested interest into the characters and what will happen, and feel for them. What I feel makes Simon matter as a director that his films you really cannot determine who is the victim and you not only feel for the characters but you are always questioning all their motives, and trying to find a forgiveness even in the most evil of moments. Like Red, White and Blue the story was simple, and yet we knew in our hearts who we felt the true victim was or were, but as the film unfolded that notion changed over and over as to trying to determine who truly is the victim and should deserve anything bad happen to them. And the same with The Living and the Dead, James comes across at times as a sympathetic victim but his motives we question and wonder what is going on in his head.
What makes this film so tragic to me is that this is everyday life, no supernatural, no survivalist, no enemies; this is just an ordinary everyday family that experiences a increasing series of events that would shatter a normal family for just one of the events, much less more than one. This is a film that watches normality sink into insanity, and the downward emotional spiral people go thru in life that test their mental. While we have all fallen on hard times, this film shows us a family that are dealing with the illness of a loved one, the severe depression and paranoid schizophrenia from their son, and a business man who just goes to his breaking point both mentally and financially.
This film is a must see, if you are familiar with Simon you have seen it and agree with me, if you have not seen Simonâ€™s work yet, this is a great start. This and Red, White and Blue are required watching, both are very powerful hits in the gut that fans will really have fun watching.
9 out of 10