13 Graves review: Eastbourne horror film packed with twists and turns

Greg Draven plays the otherworldly Woodsman
Greg Draven plays the otherworldly Woodsman

“I wanted to do a film that didn’t have any good guys in it.”

Local director John Langridge’s inspiration for the newly-released 13 Graves sums up the film’s atmosphere and aversion to expectations.

Filmed near Eastbourne with a hefty chunk of its cast and crew from the town, it is a folky-horror story which collides with the hitman genre.

“The challenge was doing a story where everybody in it is a bad guy,” Langridge said to the Herald.

The audience follows two hitmen who go to dispose of their latest victim in a remote woodland – captured in the grounds of Herstmonceux Castle.

They are played with a clever mix of humour and terror by Kevin Leslie (The Rise of the Krays) and Morgan James (Being Human) and supported by strong performances from Jacob Anderton (Coronation Street) and Terri Dwyer (Hollyoaks).

13 Graves was filmed around Herstmonceux Castle

13 Graves was filmed around Herstmonceux Castle

“We show them to be quite brutal, but they are quite charismatic as well” said Langridge, “They are bad guys but then come even more bad guys.”

Enter Eastbourne actor Greg Draven, the star of the Haribo advert, whose eerie character The Woodsman sends the plot flying into the supernatural realm.

It’s almost sadistically enjoyable watching this handful of unlikeable wrong ‘uns being punished for what they have done.

The message of the film is, John says, “You can’t escape your past, it will keep up with you. If you do something truly horrific, that is something that will follow you.”

Kevin Leslie as Frank

Kevin Leslie as Frank

And that is perhaps where 13 Graves is most in tune with the classic themes of horror – of characters being punished and forced to pay for what they have done.

The Pentacle Drummers make an appearance at the film’s ritualistic climax, which is reminiscent of the Wickerman and Blair Witch.

“The noise was incredible,” Langridge said, “We got this rhythm going and all this occult stuff.”

A special mention has to be given to the music, by Charlie Seaborn, which is at times discordant, screeching and unsettling, with the classic horror bass tones to contrast.

13 Graves is a slick hitmen movie which comes crashing into Old English witchcraft.

It is compelling, even without a clear hero to root behind, and the effects, editing and cinematography are impressive for a low budget project.

The story is like a thread which slowly unravels and reveals itself bit by bit. It comes packed with twists and turns and jerks to a ceremonious halt with a surprise ending.

An enjoyable, accomplished flick well worth grabbing your popcorn for.

• 13 Graves is out now on Amazon Video, Sky Box Office, Virgin Media, GooglePlay and Microsoft Films.