Parents' Guide to

Lord of Misrule

By Alistair Lawrence, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

British horror has ritualized violence, language, trauma.

Movie NR 2023 104 minutes
Lord of Misrule movie poster: The title of the film with a white mask wearing a jester’s crown sitting above it.

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This British horror combines two well-worn themes -- a search for a missing child with a darkness that lurks beneath the surface of a rural community -- in a bid to show something original. As with many horror movies, the setup of Lord of Misrule is more compelling than the payoff, as the latter relies on familiar pagan imagery and a lot of exposition about the malignant forces at work. A strong cast somewhat mitigates the at-times rambling dialogue and jumbled waking dream sequences, with Middleton's new-arrival vicar gradually drawn into a battle of wills and wits with Ralph Ineson's enigmatic local skeptic. William Brent Bell's direction ranges from solid to distracting, with too many fussy camera angles and close-ups, at times not trusting the audience to find its own way into the story.

The original The Wicker Man will always be the obvious comparison for stories in remote settings full of locals with something to hide, while Midsommar updated that concept to rave reviews in recent years. But for all the rich visuals in Lord of Misrule that help bring to life its strangeness, the real villain is its strangely flat script.

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