THE HERD (2014)
Directed by Melanie Light
Written by Ed Pope
Screened at Grimmfest 2014
Women are kept imprisoned like animals in a grubby facility, abused and impregnated, purely as a resource to provide milk in Melanie Light’s feminist vegan short shocker, THE HERD.
Using humans to hit home the message of how dairy cattle are treated on a day to day basis, the women are beaten, cattle prodded and continuously impreganated, forced to birth children which are then torn away from them, whilst the mother is whisked away and hooked up to a milking machine. The grim horrors parallel those of dairy cows, and in each instance, its humans who are forcing and inflicting this life upon them.
THE HERD stars Pollyanna McIntosh, Jon Campling and Dylan Barnes as the cold captors who keep the women locked up in their pens, ensuring they behave, but what they don’t expect is one of the women (Victoria Broom) to summon all her strength in an attempt to break out of the facility. Hope is all the character has and in turn, all the viewer has at watching the heart-wrenching abuse on screen.
THE HERD may be a short film, but it is certainly as hard hitting as a feature film can be. It’s concise format makes it easier for people to consume and even though the horror lasts only a short time on screen, the real horror in reality lasts a lifetime. Even after the credits roll, the viewer is subjected to clips of real-life cattle treatment, from being beaten to having their calves torn away from their mums as soon as they are born. The disturbing, upsetting visuals become etched upon the viewer’s mind as the horrific reality of the treatment of dairy cattle is revealed, allowing viewers to question the source of their dairy products for the first time. With most of the population consuming dairy in some shape or form, it’s safe to say that nobody except those in the industry, or those who actively research the subject, know the true horrors. Director Melanie Light and writer Ed Pope have shone a spotlight on this torment and translated it to human form, to really hit the subject home through the medium of horror cinema and to give an insight into the daily practice which is rarely, if ever, shown.
A strong cast and screenplay amid gritty, damp, dark and brutal settings creates a tense thriller that ultimately contrasts its shocking but not surprising outcome featuring the talents of actress Sarah Jane Honeywell. The film shows us that the end product often hides the grim reality of what came before to produce it and both Light and Pope with their talented cast and crew have achieved their goal.
You can catch THE HERD at various film festivals around the world. Keep notified via The Herd Facebook.