Today: April 19, 2024

Holding, The

It’s been said before (almost definitely by me…) but you should never go to the country. If history has taught us nothing else, bad things happen there.

It’s been said
before (almost definitely by me…) but you should never go to the country. If history has taught us nothing else,
bad things happen there.
You’ll be
raped. You’ll be murdered. You’ll be raped and murdered. And who knows in what order. In his autobiography, An Unseemly Man, Larry Flynt, multi-millionaire pornographer and free speech
campaigner, who was dragged up dirt-poor on a farm in West Virginia (necks
don’t get much redder), recounts the tale of his first sexual experimentation. With a chicken. That he then strangled in an attempt to
cover-up any evidence of his crime.
Which gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “choking the
chicken.” That’s right gentle
reader, the pubescent Larry Flynt raped and then murdered a chicken so it
couldn’t grass him up (???), a clear case of fowl play. Country people have country ways. The
Holding
is a case in point.

The Holding opens one dark, stormy night with abused
wife and mother-of-two Cassie (professional hard-faced bitch Kierston Wareing) burying Dean (the
nasty hubby she’s just killed) in a watery, slurry pit with the aid of old
farmhand Cooper (David Bradley). What she doesn’t realise is that
youngest daughter and fledgling religious maniac Amy (Maisie Lloyd) witnessed the whole thing. Fast-forward eight months and Cassie is struggling to keep
her small cattle farm (the titular holding) afloat while oldest daughter 16-year
old Hannah (Skye Lourie) puts the
diss into dysfunctional and Amy has taken to speaking in Bible quotes. Courted and intimidated by neighbouring
farmer Karsten (Terry Stone) who
wants to get his hands on her land and wouldn’t mind getting them on her body
as well, Cassie is just about at the end of her tether when enigmatic stranger
Aden (Vincent Regan) appears,
claiming to be an old friend of Dean’s.
She lets him stay, he helps out around the farm. He’s funny and charming, a much-needed
masculine presence. Slowly he
insinuates himself into the family (Amy believes he is an angel sent by God)
and into Cassie’s bed. Only the
sullen Hannah is suspicious of the mysterious stranger who seems to know a
little too much about them and is harbouring a few secrets of his own…

While
beautifully shot and she’s obviously a talent to watch out for, director Susan Jacobson’s debut feature is a
pretty run-of-the-mill affair, squandering its early menace as Regan’s Aden
comes over all Single White Female
and the bodies start piling up. You
wish she’d had a better script and leading man. Never the most versatile or charismatic lump of timber,
Regan’s performance is pretty awful, you know from the second he turns up that
he’s crazier than a pig in an apple tree and he’s not served well by a
ridiculous Scottish accent (coz ever since Alex Ferns’ Trevor on EastEnders, rapey psycho woman-beaters
are always Scottish) that’s more Russ Abbot than Bobby Carlyle. And Aden’s not a forename; it’s a
seaport in Yemen. Surely they
meant either Aidan or Aiden? When
the makers of a film can’t even spell a name right it doesn’t fill you full of
confidence. Skye Lourie makes a
very good sulky teenager and Maisie Lloyd really deserves to be in a much
creepier, darker film as creepy younger sister Amy while Kierston Wareing gives
us yet another variation on her now familiar hard-faced bitch with an inner
vulnerability routine. A talented and
versatile actress, Wareing seems to have found herself pigeon-holed; the go-to
girl for chavs, gangster’s molls and female coppers. It’d be nice occasionally to see her in something where she
didn’t have a Croydon facelift and occasionally smiled.

The plot is
entirely predictable, characters introduced purely for Regan to come over all
smiley and twitchy before dispatching them, and what could have been a playful High Plains Drifter-style supernatural
tale becomes a routine woman (and kids) in peril flick with Regan’s psycho who
just wants the perfect family coming off like The Stepfather turned navvy.

A decent enough way
to waste an hour and a half, The Holding
holds no surprises. But Susan Jacobson
should definitely make a horror movie with creepy kid Maisie Lloyd. And I should write it. But don’t worry, there’ll be no chicken
molestation.

David Watson

David Watson is a screenwriter, journalist and 'manny' who, depending on time of day and alcohol intake could be described as a likeable misanthrope or a carnaptious bampot. He loves about 96% of you but there's at least 4% he'd definitely eat in the event of a plane crash. Email: david.watson@filmjuice.com

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