The Holding review (DVD)

Single mother Cassie (Wearing) is trying to stay afloat running a loss making farm holding while also raising two daughters alone. The girls father has disappeared, although the film's opening suggests that Cassie may have taken direct action against him. Clearly struggling and swamped in final demands Cassie's neighbour is pressuring her to sell out to him.

Into this difficult situation comes mysterious stranger Aden (Regan). Auden claims to have worked with Cassie's departed husband on the rigs. Although initially suspicious, after he helps deliver a calf Cassie allows him to stay and help work the farm in return for lodging. When then situation with he neighbour becomes threatening, Aden seizes the opportunity to work his way further into the family and Cassie's affections, but is he all that he seems?

Director Jacobson's UK thriller is essentially a dark western. With shades of High Plains Drifter and Straw Dogs, the film deals with issues of domestic abuse and it's effect through generations. Regan's character bears the scars of an abusive father and develops an obsession with making the pact family unit that becomes violent when it fails to meet his ideals. Jacobson's film is let down by a plot that fallows some well worn groves fro the western genre, but also from psycho thrillers like The Stepfather. Ultimately the film resolves with some final plot turns which are unconvincing.

Despite these issues the film is well directed and features good performances (especially from Weiring and Regan). Although this isn't as successful a transposition of the western genre to the English landscape as Shane Meadow's Dead Mans Shoes, it is worth a look even if it fades from the memory quickly.

EXTRAS ★★★ The featurette The Making of The Holding (10:28); deleted scenes (10:05); a photo gallery; and the short film One Hundredth of a Second (5:24), by Susan Jacobson.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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