Starve Acre | Daniel Kokotajlo’s folk horror sets September release

morfydd clark in starve acre
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Starve Acre, Daniel Kokotajlo’s folk horror starring Morfydd Clark and Matt Smith, is coming to UK cinemas in September. 

After a glitzy world premiere at the BFI London Film Festival last October, Daniel Kokotajlo’s Starve Acre is finally being released in cinemas later this year. 

Kokotajlo’s follow-up to his vastly underrated 2017 first feature Apostasy stars Morfydd Clark and Matt Smith as a Yorkshire couple whose life is turned upside down, with terrifying consequences. Starve Acre is based on a book of the same name by Andrew Michael Hurley, published in 2019 and the film adaptation is hitting cinemas on the 6th September, courtesy of BFI Distribution. 

Here’s a more detailed synopsis:

1970s, rural Yorkshire. Richard and Juliette Willoughby’s seemingly idyllic family life is thrown into turmoil when their young son Owen starts acting out of character. A sudden, tragic event brings grief and drives a wedge between the once happy couple. At Starve Acre, their remote family home, academic archaeologist Richard buries himself in exploring a folkloric myth that the ancient oak tree that once stood on their land is imbued with phenomenal powers. While Juliette turns to the local community to find some kind of peace, Richard obsessively digs deeper. An unexpected discovery soon occupies the couple’s attention and dark and sinister forces, unwittingly allowed into their home, offer a disturbing possibility of reconnection between them.

In our review of the film, we had this to say: “Starve Acre, if you hadn’t guessed, is folk horror with a capital ‘f’. Joyfully embracing atmospheric convention while delivering a nicely paced, emotional story in its own right, it’s helped along by a pair of powerhouse performances. While Smith has the unenviable task of injecting warmth and empathy into an emotionally closed-off Yorkshire dad, Clark demonstrates once again after 2019’s exceptional Saint Maud that she’s really rather good at this horror stuff.”

Here’s what Kokotajlo said of his film: “I’m a sucker for films that put a spell on you with their attitudes and strange sensibilities. English folk tales like Starve Acre give you an opportunity to do that. It’s not just horror; it ends up in a weird, off-kilter place. It can be uncomfortably quiet and sensitive, then suddenly it slaps you in your face with its oddballness. That was the aim of this film: to create a mood of nervousness. Making an audience nervous results in a whole range of reactions: tears, screams or giggles. It’s my idea of cathartic fun.”

Starve Acre is in cinemas on the 6th September. 

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