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Independent Film Review – Dagr

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Some years ago, I was given one of those posters with a hundred must see films on it. Each film was covered with that scratch off stuff and the idea was that you scraped off the coverings of all the films you’d seen. It was delightful the way that Dagr threw in so many references to films, directors, techniques, etc. I’d recommend developing it into a bingo game as a drinking game could prove fatal! Just in case you think “well, that will be distracting” it was only for the first ten minutes or so and helped you settle into the general swing of things. Besides, it’s a bit like talking about stuff in front of kids; if they understand then you aren’t telling them anything new and if they don’t it’ll just go over their heads!

To be honest though, there was stuff that was a bit outside of my generational understanding. I mean, I’ve heard of TikTok, Instagram, FaceBook, and the rest but am barely competent on them. I’ve never used TikTok. I’ve had FaceBook for years; mainly because everyone else was on MySpace and I wanted to be awkward. I do have an Instagram account but I’m not exactly sure how it works or why random pictures of mine keep popping up on there. So I know about “influencers” and what they try and do but I wasn’t sure what the mask things were or how they got there. I know they were to try and protect the anonymity of the two lead performers but I would find them desperately distracting!

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Druids Were Much More Peaceful Than Early Christians Would Have Us Believe…

The masks in question are called, I believe, emoji filters. Some piece of electronic wizardry knows when a face is looking at the lens and can cover it up with a cartoon. They are being used by the lead performers, Louise (Riz Moritz) and Thea (Ellie Duckles), as their characters have a social media platform which appears to be based on the philosophy of Robin Hood. They go around doing stuff that they feel is righting some sort of wrong. We are introduced to them as they are running away from a rather plush house carrying an antique vase. The caption says that they are repatriating it. Their laissez-faire approach seems to mean that, while they try to do a good deed (repatriating the vase), they don’t worry too much when things go wrong (the vase ends up smashed). Their content is streamed under the title “They Deserve It, And If They Don’t…F**k It Anyway!”

Their plan for the latest episode is to pose as caterers during a video shoot for an advert. They turn up at the location and start setting up all their hidden cameras. I’m guessing that is easier for them as the place is smothered in cameras anyway and there are masses of studio lights. What they want to do is go in to steal all the expensive clothes, props, and equipment. After that they will sell them and donate the money to food banks. That’s what they say to camera anyway. They do keep railing against the patriarchy and bemoan the “wanky” ideals of the advertising agency making the video. I tend to believe that they are genuine but they must have a lot of overheads and production costs; all those iPhones, body cams, and miniature surveillance videos must cost a fair bit.

But There Was One Man…

So those two are on one side of events. The other side is made up of the cast and crew who are on location making an advert for some unidentified commodity. The cast, of the advert, are Emma (Emma King) and Matt (Matt Barber) and they are being filmed by Tori (Tori Butler-Hart) and Gray (Graham Butler). They also have a runner/assistant called Hattie…or Hettie (Hattie Chapman). Incidentally, that is part of a joke not my usual lack of attention to detail! So those are our dramatis personae and we know we’re looking at supernatural happenings along the lines of The Blair Witch Project, Night Of The Demon, and The Haunting; a combination of found footage, haunted house, and demonic possession.

But what makes the difference between a good film and a great film is more about the execution and commitment of the cast and crew rather than just the story. Take Psycho, 1960 vs 1998. The latter is a, virtual, shot for shot remake but one is a classic while the other is an abomination. So it is with Dagr; a simple, oft told story but it has been done with such verve and style that every shot  pops and sparkles. While it would be fantastic to see Dagr on the big screen I know that it is going to one of those films that I’ll be getting for home viewing. Trust me, there is so much going on that you will be saying “Hang on…did that just happen?” and be reaching for the rewind 20 seconds button! Matthew and Tori Butler-Hart keep proving themselves to be top of the tree when it comes to tight, well told stories.

Movie Grade: A+

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