Review: Legend of the Chained Oak film

4stars


Legend of the Chained OakThe Legend of the Chained Oak film has been a long time in the making, but after several aborted attempts it has now seen the light of day.

It is loosely based on the Staffordshire legend which inspired the magnificent Hex dark ride at Alton Towers.

The 28-minute horror had a budget of only £500 and was directed by Mark Mooney and George Watts.

The film’s co-producer Dean Maynard was kind enough to give this website a special preview of the film, which had an airing in Staffordshire earlier this year.

What has been created is a work that is reminiscent of the Blair Witch Project, the pioneering amateur/found footage horror format.

Of course that film led to the low-budget and extremely successful paranormal Activity series, and it is those films to which the Legend of the Chained Oak bears a striking resemblance.

Investigations

The film focuses around a team of relatively young investigators, who have travelled to Staffordshire to investigate the chained oak and the legend surrounding it.

A journal has been found which indicates that there is considerably more to the story than the Early of Shrewsbury, old woman beggar and her curse that are the centre-points of the well-known legend.

Legend of the Chained Oak screenshot

When the group hold a seance at the site of the tree, things take a turn for the worse

The amateur footage format of the film is superbly pulled off throughout, with the sound clear and loud when necessary.

When cameras are set up within a home the resemblance to Paranormal Activity is possibly a little too uncanny, nevertheless the jumps and scares are pulled off just as effectively.

It scares several times over the course of its near half-hour length, and although some of the support cast are merely adequate, the lead trio put in convincing performances.

There is no blood or gore here, and in keeping with many modern horror films – it depends on the viewer’s mind bridging that final gap between reality and the unknown.

It is also interesting to imagine how those with no knowledge of the original legend would perceive the film, but it may just be the case that it would have a positive effect.

For fans of Alton Towers and the Hex ride, something more closely linked to that elaboration of the legend might be expected from the film, but the detraction that exists is not overly off the beaten track.

Scriptwriter Dan Weatherer has managed to retain all of the atmosphere and suspense associated with the first time one rides Hex.

The film is a master-stroke use of a £500 budget and without a doubt would be a worthy candidate for a multi-thousand pound reboot.

That said, the film’s effective ending leaves the door open for a follow-up in the current format, and if that were the case it is likely to be eagerly anticipated by all that watch this superb film.

The Legend of the Chained Oak will be screened at the Portobello film festival in London at 6pm on 3 September.

One comment

  1. Alan Ratcliffe says:

    I have know this tree all my life, my dad Malcolm Ratcliffe took me on walks from our home in Alton all around Farley, Oakamoor and down past The Chained Oak on to Dimmingsdale and back home to Alton.
    But I (after all the years) have, only just realized something,
    I do not ‘fear’ the Chained Oak,
    I feel it is a sad tree that has been used and abused over the years (animals and humans have been sacrificed under, and in the name of it)
    but, at the same time, neglected by all who have passed it by (including me) and time has been cruel to it, it once stood proud but now the chains which ‘burden’ it are taking there toll its branches (which have been shackled since the 1800’s) once reached for the sky, are now breaking, the tree is crying out,but no one listens……………………………………………………………..but, I have it’s offspring (grown from a single acorn which fell from the Chained Oak) living in my garden and I feel like I am it’s minder/keeper and The Old Oak can take comfort and die knowing that it’s offspring is able to be free and live in the sunlight along with the other Oaks of Oakhill

    I have seen this film and Dan and all the team have brought a real living Legend to a world audience and it is such an excellent subject to make a full length feature film of.
    I as an Altonian (born and bred in Alton one and a half miles away from The Chained Oak will look forward to someone investing in this sure fire winner of a rattling good subject.

    Alan Ratcliffe
    Tean Staffordshire