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Runes, Wraiths & Ragnarok,
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This review is from: The Lost Colony [DVD] (DVD)
The premise for "The Lost Colony" is the true story of the 1587 expedition to Roanoke Island where the only remaining remnants of the English colony that was supposed to have been there was the fort and one skeleton, believe to have been one of the English garrison.
A whole genre of eerie tales of deserted colonies, abandoned villages and lost legions permeate British and American folklore, and when I came upon this DVD I was particularly keen to see it, obviously knowing that it would have a fictionalised and no doubt supernatural take on the issue (fictional supernatural hypotheses are always the best ones if you like your horror stories!).
In this film the colonists have walked onto a cursed island, plagued with the wraiths of previous Viking expeditions to the Americas; and they want the body of a colonist's new-born baby girl, leading to the colonists trying to get help from the local natives - before seriously falling out with them - and finding themselves trapped within their stockade, trying to discover a way to exorcise the demons as the fort is attacked night after night and their men slaughtered.
The effects were reasonable; the wraiths reminded me very much of The Army Of The Dead in LOTR: The Return of the King , in good and bad ways (the close ups were great, the distance movement shots were cartoonish glowing figures). The small amount of gore on display was pretty effective. The costumes were fine, though the historical attention to detail wasn't a priority (wrong era clothes and helmets, they had flintlocks way ahead of their time, and they referred to the pillory as 'stocks'). However the general gist of the true story of the attack on the local native settlement was kept in (though the actual account was of the natives being blamed for the loss of a silver cup, rather than the wraiths, of course). The English accents however were pretty diabolical, I heard everything from Dutch to Australian in some of the actors attempts to come up with English of any kind, 16th Century or otherwise.
Unfortunately the film misses the full-on sense of dread that should really come with such a scenario. The Viking element to the story is interesting (Vikings indeed were exploring in that area long before any other 'white man'). But their reasons for needing the child, and the bizarre nature of the pyre ritual which had to be used to free their souls was convoluted, thrown in right at the end, was rushed and didn't lead to a particularly satisfactory ending.
That said it was a fairly enjoyable film; I'd like to know more about the lost colony in reality, and as such have put Lee Miller's Roanoke: Solving the Riddle of England's Lost Colony onto my reading list.