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Bella In The Wych Elm - Bella In The Wych Elm(DVD) [Carnie Features - 2017]

Bella In The Wych Elm is a short, arty & at times quite creepy British independent film. It charts the true crime mystery of a skeleton & skull found in a tree in the 1940’s in the west Midlands. Here we have a DVD issue of the film- featuring three different versions of the thirty-five-minute film

The discovery of the skeleton & skull happened one Sunday morning in April 1943, in woodland near Hagley- a small village on the borders of West Midlands and Worcestershire.  Four teenage boys where climbing a wych-elm tree & came across the body inside of the three, and so started the 70-year mystery, which still remains unsolved. Over the years there have been lots of theories about who the women was, and why she was placed there- these take in her been a witch, or a woman related to German spy.

The film is shot in black & white, with heavy use of aging effects. It tells the story of the case from the discovery, the cases investigation, the various theories, and the key figures connected with the case. The film's action unfolds silently- and depending on which version you watch, you either get the story told to you by a man with a Black Country accent. Or via old fashion silent film like the caption. You also get a choice of three different soundtracks too, and these move from sawing & barren folk bound, piano & other instrumentation based, or more ambient.

I've only fully watched the first & main version of the film, which features the commentary and sawing folk soundtrack. And If I was to compare it to anything I’d say the 2004 short film H. H. Holmes: America's First Serial Killer, with its use of re-enactments, voice over, and general tone which moves from informative-to-chilling.

Due to the films subject matter, we get lots of arty & triply overlaid shots of woodland, as well as the course of pictures of the skull & bones, newspaper clippings, with a smattering of more creepy dreamlike imagery, and witch based illustrations.  I guess I was hoping it might have been a little more horror when I first became aware of the film, so you might be disappointed if you come into it looking for that side of things. But there are the odd chilling moment; it’s just more of a true crime doc, instead of an all-out arty horror film.  Though if you’re looking for a fairly well made independent short film that tells of a fascinating case then I’ll think you’ll enjoy what’s on offer here.

So in conclusion, if you’re interested in British true crime, with some folk horror leanings that I feel Bella in the Wych Elm would be of interest. The film can be purchased directly from  here

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Roger Batty
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