Indie Movie Review – The Piper

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As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, if you have a good story then you don’t just use it once! Whereas A Christmas Carol came from a novella written in 1843’s London, the story behind The Piper dates back to the Middle Ages and from Hamelin, Germany when it was originally known as Der Rattenfänger von Hameln.  In this case there have been sixteen different versions so far. Not quite as many as Dickens’ little story but not a bad innings. As with A Christmas Carol, there are live action and animated versions, foreign language adaptations, and traditional and modern day renditions. 

The last version I saw was The Amazing Maurice which transferred the story to the Bad Blintz area of the Discworld and into the unspecified timeline that lies somewhere between the Middle Ages and the Industrial Revolution. This time, the appropriately named Ratcatcher Entertainment, in partnership with Cometstone Pictures, have gone for a modern day version set in the town of Hamelin itself. It’s not actually a direct retelling of the original fairy story but there are enough hooks for you to be able to hang onto so that you know where you are.

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The Trouble With The Rat Race

There are rats, there is a mysterious piper, there are even scenes of children walking out of town following a strange bit of music. So far, so traditional. But that is when things start to change. In this version the Piper is taking only certain children. The children are being taken in the sense of they are being controlled, by the Piper, into taking their own lives. What leads the Piper into making his decision as to which children are to be unalived is down to the actions of their parents. In short, if the parents have done something wrong, the Piper punishes them by taking their children.

So how does The Piper shape up? In short, quite well! Most of the heavy lifting is done by Elizabeth Hurley. She plays Liz Haines, mother of Amy (Mia Jenkins), and is a history teacher taking a new position in a school in Hamelin. The vacancy arose due to the previous incumbent being certified following the death of her young son. Obviously, for the sake of dramatic narrative, Mrs Haines has something in her past which arouses the curiosity of the Piper which in turn leads to problems for Amy and causes Luca Shandor (Jack Stewart) and his Auntie Aishe (Tara Fitzgerald) to come to the rescue.

Even When You Win You’re Still A Rat

Those of us of a certain age will think of Liz Hurley as Hugh Grant’s girlfriend who wore that dress with the safety pins. That is somewhat unfair though as she had had a number of film and TV roles prior to that including a second lead in Passenger 57 alongside Wesley Snipes. My personal favourite of her films is Bedazzled. I enjoyed the original with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore and the remake with her and Brendan Fraser was just as much fun. She is a fine, if underrated, actor and performs well in the comedy, horror, and suspense scenes in The Piper. She is also still as gorgeous as she was last century.

In the main, The Piper is a good little film. It has oodles of atmosphere and manages to be suspenseful without resorting to endless jump cuts. Is it perfect? No. The acting is good. The story and cinematography are excellent; writer/director Anthony Waller did a great job on both fronts. So what did I find to moan about? I’ll be honest and say that this could have just been down to the review copy that I had but I found that the sound levels were a bit wonky. Throughout the film the background music was a little too foreground for my liking. This made it difficult to hear the dialogue at some points. Other than that, an interesting film.

Movie Grade: B+

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