Wandering Rose (2014) Review


Rose and Theo take their camper out to the remote Scottish Highlands for an idealistic weekend getaway, but their plans derail when Rose catches the attention of a ghostly apparition.  The isolation, Rose’s sudden erratic behavior, and the arrival of an unexpected visitor unravel the couple plans for romance. The weekend soon becomes a battle not only for their very relationship, but for their lives as well as the past haunts them.

Writer and director Coz Greenop demonstrates an eye for cinematography in his debut feature, as the aerial shots over the stunning Scottish Highlands are breathtaking.  These shots not only contribute a sense of artistic beauty, but convey just how secluded Theo and Rose become by choosing this area to set up camp.  Not a soul in any direction for miles, should they find themselves in need of help.  Well, save for the mysterious arrival of off duty Officer Thwaites in the middle of the night.  Oh, and that pesky apparition that only Rose notices.

wandering rose officer

From the onset, Rose is on edge and uneasy.  Theo, almost perpetually demonstrating patience with his increasingly difficult lover, is the driving force behind this trip.  This relationship is strained, and Theo seems to be the one putting in the effort to remove the mysterious wedge between the pair.  In fact, Rose comes across as off-putting; both in her unreceptiveness to Theo’s amorous attempts at repair and in her choice to remain tight lipped on the ghostly figure that lurks around the camper.

For this very reason, actress Carina Birrell should be commended on her portrayal of prickly Rose.  She plays Rose with layered complexity that makes the character ultimately sympathetic despite also playing a foil to Theo’s doting.  She effectively shifts the audience loyalty from Theo to Rose as the running time progresses. The weight of the film rests largely on Birrell’s shoulders as it’s through Rose that the core mystery is revealed, though the entire minimal cast does an excellent job of offering performances that keep you guessing.  While the movie boasts a tiny cast list of three, none of these characters should be taken at face value.

Rose hurt

The appearances by the ghost, however, throws a wrench into an otherwise elegantly executed film.  While the ghost is a necessary contribution to Rose’s mental decline and the story’s overall progression, the timing of the jump scares fall flat every time.  In one scene, the split second appearance is gone too quickly before the human eye can even register what it’s seeing.  In others, the soundtrack is too subtle to be effective, rendering the scare mute.  This story is more about the demons of the past, so the ghostly imagery ends up confusing more than scaring.

Coz Greenop has constructed a tale that’s both visually and tonally stunning, with the gorgeous Scottish Highlands feeling almost like the fourth uncredited cast member.  Between the camera work and the haunting soundtrack, the melancholic tone is bolstered by Carina Birrell’s leading performance and a mystery that unravels at the right pace.  This plot is rich in character but disappointing in scares.  While the clash between psychological horror and supernatural aspects disappoint, Coz Greenop shows a promising future in film making.

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