April 30, 2018  (Web Review)

The Orchard End Murder

Kino Lorber, 49 min., not rated, Blu-ray: $29.95

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Produced in 1981 and shown in British theaters as an added attraction, The Orchard End Murder is an interesting short film that straddles the genres of horror, thriller, and psychological drama. The story is set in 1966 in a rural British village, where a shop girl from the suburbs (Tracy Hyde) explores the countryside, taking tea with an eccentric, hunchbacked railway gatekeeper (Bill Wallis), and also meeting a hulking, dimwitted worker (Clive Mantle) whose clumsy attempt to seduce her turns violent and then deadly. Director Christian Marnham directs with a naturalism that makes the twists all the more shocking, but he is more interested in the psychology of the characters, especially the neighborly, overly-ingratiating gatekeeper. A compelling and unsettling film presented with a low-key mood (avoiding the bloody spectacle usually associated with horror films), The Orchard End Murder makes its home video debut with extras including Marnham’s 1970 documentary short “The Showman,” and new interviews with the director and members of the cast. Recommended. (S. Axmaker)