MANDRAKE (2022) Reviews of folk horror movie – now acquired by Shudder



Mandrake is a 2022 Northern Irish horror film about a probation officer tasked with trying to rehabilitate an infamous female killer.

Directed by Lynne Davison from a screenplay written by Matt Harvey. Produced Marie-Thérése Mackle. Executive produced by Paul Kennedy.

A probation officer, Cathy Madden (Deirdre Mullins), is tasked with rehabilitating a notorious killer named ‘Bloody’ Mary Laidlaw (Derbhle Crotty) back into society following a two-decade sentence…

” …Lynne Davison’s feature debut is a story of motherhood and fertility. Of the human need which drives many to obsess on procreation and childbirth. There’s lots to admire in Mandrake, even if it never really comes together as a cohesive narrative.” Backseat Mafia

“For die-hard witch fans and genre devotees, this ticks all the boxes for sure and marks Davison as a deft hand at delivering grim, grisly, earthy horror with punchy characters. There’s definitely room for so much more here though, and with a cast as switched-on as this, it feels like a wasted opportunity to not milk this for more of that thunderous tension the first act manages.” 4/5 HeyUGuys

“Although the pacing gets a little disjointed toward the end, as debut’s go, Mandrake has plenty of good intent, some excellent performances, and most importantly – a great iteration of the witch to discover. By refusing to dress itself up as the traditional otherworldly fairy-tale film that many expect when settling into a film about witchcraft, Mandrake instead confronts the audience with its ferocity. 3/5 The Hollywood News


“Splendidly acted, with Crotty especially chilling as a malevolent and possibly magical presence, this treads a well-worn path into deep dark forests but conceals nasty traps in the wild undergrowth. A few shock moments jar the nerves, but it’s the atmosphere of damp, earthy dread that’ll stick with you.” The Kim Newman Web Site

“It’s so tightly edited, fast-paced and visually dark that it’s hard to establish what’s going on, and yet it feels like a really atmospheric and lived-in narrative. It’s a dichotomy of a film that encapsulates that moment before a scare where the tension is at its absolute peak, but never quite tips over that edge.” Loud and Clear

” …dramatises the outer limits – and sacrifices – of a maternal love which unites Mary and Cathy in destructive witchery. By the end, we can see that despite their differences in class and age, and despite their place on opposite sides of the criminal divide, the instincts that these two women share bind them together to the primordial mud and ooze of that greatest mother, earth, where savagery is the natural order.” Projected Figures

“Matt Harvey’s screenplay is loaded with tensions and shocking surprises, and Davison wrings every possible bit of suspense from it, giving the film a brooding, dread-filled atmosphere. She is greatly aided by incredible performances from Mullins and Crotty. Unrelentingly bleak and absolutely mesmerizing, Mandrake gets my highest recommendations.” 4/5 The Scariest Things

“Blending elements of folk horror, Matt Harvey’s script takes a premise that could form the basis of an ITV crime serial and turns it into a mix of pure evil and mounting terror […] There’s a risk when a film shows too much ‘behind the curtain’ of the plot too early, which is what happens at around the halfway point here, but Mandrake still has a number of surprises up its grimy sleeve.” 4/5 Starburst

Shudder has acquired Mandrake for streaming release in the USA, UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. Director Lynne Davison said: ” …not only are we experiencing an incredible festival run and fantastic reviews but I can now proudly state that my film, the first of many, will be available on the premiere genre streaming service in the world, Shudder! Joining the Shudder family is truly a highlight of my burgeoning career.”

Cast and characters:
Deirdre Mullins … Cathy Madden
Derbhle Crotty … Mary Laidlaw
Paul Kennedy … Jason Reid
Seamus O’Hara … Thomas
Nigel O’Neill … Bill Rosewater
Ian Beattie … Massey
Jude Hill … Luke
Paul Mallon … Nathan McGrath
Sara Dylan … Amber
Roisin Gallagher … Grace
Jonny Everett … Shawn Duggan
Cailum Carragher … Baggo

There is currently no trailer available for Mandrake.

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