Maiden Guernsey

Lorelei, a 13-minute island-made First World War horror fantasy filmed on Lihou and Guernsey, premiered at The Mallard Cinema last week. Shaun Shackleton was there...

GUERNSEY Filmworks premiered its first island-made film at The Mallard Cinema last week.

Called Lorelei, the 13-minute-long First World War horror fantasy was filmed on Lihou Island and Guernsey.

Guernsey Filmworks is a division of Revasser Films, which is also based on-island, and founded by local residents Lars Janssen and Charlotte Dawn Potter.

‘We invited 100 people to the premiere and it was the first public showing,’ explained Charlotte, who not only co-wrote the screenplay but also has a dual role in the film.

‘As well as Lihou we were allowed access to the German Underground Hospital to film several scenes and we recruited cast and crew members in Guernsey.

‘We’ve had fantastic support and some of the people we invited to the premiere we hope to work with in the future.’

Being a writer, producer and acting in the film, what did she think of the finished product?

‘I’m very proud of the film but I’m self-critical of the performance as it was me two years ago.’

As the audience arrived, Charlotte and Lars handed out small drawstring bags of sweets including, appropriately, mermaids, all of which Lars assured us were 100% vegan.

There were familiar faces at the premiere. Roger Le Tissier and Frances Le Tissier of Ivy Gate Films, who produced the 2020 Ilkley-set thriller Say Your Prayers, the cast of which included Derek Jacobi and Anna Maxwell-Martin; Alex Bates of White Rock Productions, which made the film Occupied, about the German bombing of Guernsey harbour on 27 June 1940, and premiered in May; Art for Guernsey’s David Ummels; and Russ Fossey, head of arts development at Guernsey Arts.

Also present was Steve Sarre, the warden of Lihou.

‘They asked for permission to film and I told them about the tides but I didn’t even see them come over.

‘I was really pleased to be asked to the premiere.’

Lars introduced Lorelei, along with two other shorts, Backstage, a thriller, and Underground, a three-minute horror which was made for the BFI Future Film Festival.

Lorelei begins with a dogfight between British pilot James Mannock and three enemy planes.

Shot in a blurred haze, which gives the chaos underneath a dream-like quality, this aerial opening is handled beautifully, particularly Mannock’s smoke-streaming descent. (Remote-controlled models? Digitally edited air display? It doesn’t matter, it works.)

We then see Mannock stood on the shore of Lihou.

The scene then cuts between Mannock in the bed of a dilapidated hospital, staring at himself in a shard of mirror, and him underwater. We see the Venus Pool and Lorelei then appears.

Back in hospital a nurse brings him food.

The nurse and Lorelei are the same.

A voiceover says ‘I found you. I saved you.’

In the hospital Mannock is being questioned by a doctor.

‘Tell us about Lorelei. Can you tell us about your experience?’

He is then given electro-convulsive therapy.

I won’t give away the denouement.

Lorelei is an effective, atmospheric fantasy horror. The locations are wonderfully well chosen, the story suitably confusing (until the end – but then again...) and the soundtrack chillingly matches the visuals. It stays with you long after you leave the cinema aisles.

(The film is dedicated to the fallen of the Great War and the veterans who suffered shell shock and PTSD.)

My only complaint is that I wished the film was longer. Happily, though, this will be granted soon when Guernsey Filmworks undertakes its first full-length feature.

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