SAWNEY: FLESH OF MAN (2012) – On DVD from 19th August 2013

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Written and Directed by Ricky Wood Jr

The appearance of a woman’s dismembered body in the woods strikes fear into a quiet Scottish community. When more women start to go missing, the police begin to feel the pressure to find the killer before more people wind up dead. Matters are made worse when investigative journalist, Hamish MacDonald, writes sensational and damning headlines about the incompetence of the police handling the case, and who decides to investigate the case himself in a bid to catch the serial killer. Little does Hamish realise that the killer is in fact Sawney, a cannibal psychopath who stalks the town in his black cab, hunting for fresh meat to feed his hungry family who reside in the isolated caves in the stunning Scottish hillside.
When a woman is snatched outside a nightclub, both Hamish and police inspector Bill Munro must find the culprit before it’s too late…

SAWNEY: FLESH OF MAN is inspired by the Scottish semi-myth legend of Sawney Bean, the head of a family of cannibals who lived near Edinburgh, Scotland during the 1500’s, who was executed for the mass murder and cannibalisation of over 1000 people, along with his family members. Taking this urban legend and putting a modern twist to it, the film’s Sawney is a descendant of a survivor of 16th century Sawney’s family. Our Sawney is a religious nutcase, preaching from the bible which he takes as literal fact as far as devouring human flesh and drinking blood is concerned. A chilling performance from David Hayman as Sawney really sets the tone of the film. Sawney’s attitude and appetite for flesh, both carnal and nutritional, are rather disturbing to witness, especially with the film set in current time. His leering eyes and tongue licking his lips at the tantalising beauty he has captive in his cave make for one of the most uncomfortable scenes, with the creepiest character on film I’ve seen in a long time. What breaks this terrifying nightmare is the appearance of two ‘sons’ of Sawney, who seem to be rather disfigured and be the most incredible acrobatic free-runners you’ve ever seen. For me, these sons stuck out like a sore thumb and didn’t feel right to sit alongside this iconic character of Sawney Bean. I’d have rather preferred if Sawney lived a solitary life, living how his father and grandfather taught him, than bring other characters into the mix who’s body movements are typical of the modern era and contrast Sawney’s 500 year legacy.

The lead of the film is journalist Hamish MacDonald, played by Samuel Feeney. Hamish, an Englishman but son of a Scotsman, devotes his time to tracking down the killer of his ex-girlfriend’s sister. Alcohol dependent, Hamish struggles to keep a grip on his own reality but is adamant to continue his quest for justice, even if it means being a pain in the backside of Bill Munro. I wasn’t totally convinced in the lead, with his character somewhat resembling a caricature rather than a believable, real person. I partially think the actor’s clean cut image just didn’t ring true to this supposed alcoholic reporter, with scenes of him drinking out his hip flask rather out of place. I invested in him a little, anyhow, with my curiousity captured on how Sawney would be discovered and exposed.

The film isn’t too blood-thirsty, though there’s plenty of the red stuff on show, but it is definitely one of the most disturbing I’ve seen in donkey’s years. A severed head on a stake will be giving you nightmares for days, not to mention the vision of Sawney suckling on the blood-stained flesh of his victims.

A bit of humour is present throughout the film, albeit subtle, with Sawney leading the charge. The film felt fresh, though I couldn’t help drawing comparisons with From Hell due to the use of a black cab to stalk his victoms, not unlike Jack The Ripper’s carriage in From Hell.

I thoroughly enjoyed Sawney: Flesh of Man, despite the different issues I had with it. A tense horror flick set in the stunning yet chilling hills of Scotland is on its own quite sinister. It’s creepy, don’t-hold-back attitude kept me engrossed to the end, with David Hayman’s Sawney a horror villian to remember in years to come.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

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About Bat 4417 Articles
I love practical effects, stop-motion animation and gore, but most of all I love a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. Currently playing: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Yakuza Zero and Mafia III.

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