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The mandrake; a plant that contains hallucinogenic properties that have stemmed many a recipe for paganistic medicines and rituals. Its roots take on humanistic features and legend has it that when you dig up its roots, you can hear it scream. The person who removes it from its soil would face instant death. In some cases, when taken internally the effect could treat melancholy and mania. All of which provide inspiration for the latest movie to hit Shudder’s Exclusive and Original platform. 

Buried deep in Lynne Davison’s directorial feature debut is a tale about broken relationships, mistrust and isolation.

When probation officer, Cathy Madden (Deidrie Mullins – The Frankenstein Chronicles) is charged with rehabilitating a notorious killer ‘Bloody Mary’ back into society, she faces a community unwilling to accept. This includes Cathy’s ex and police officer Jason Reid (Paul Kennedy – House of the Dragon) who may harbour his own reasons for wariness. When two children disappear from a neighbouring farm, fears rise along with Cathy’s own suspicions. These inklings lead her down a dangerous path that may either kill her or cure her own desolation.

The prognosis:

Mandrake is folktale embedded in the heart of a modern setting, but leans heavily into its origins. The setting of Northern Ireland helps to cement this fantastical component and drive through with a realistic drama as its narrative. 

The performances lend weight to this too and the characters are solid and compelling enough to have a dynamic composure to them, swaying your own personal alignment to them. This is a testament to writer Matt Harvey’s approach to the subject.

The pace of the film does drag in places, but the payoff is a strong one that has plenty to say on the subject of emotional turmoil and whether we can really heal from the trauma that we all carry around with us.

– Saul Muerte

Mandrake will be streaming on Shudder ANZ from Thursday Nov 10th.