In an era of mega-budget movie-making, where films can cost upwards of $100 million and sometimes $200 million to make, it’s perhaps not surprising that the horror genre has seen a considerable surge in micro-budgeted productions. These are films produced for a few pennies, made in people’s homes and back gardens (and often looking like it), and understandably with varying results. The success of The Blair Witch Project gave anyone with a camcorder, reasonable eye-hand coordination, and a few willing friends, carte blanche to go out and make a film. The avid horror fan has occasionally reaped the rewards, but has also had to endure some awful rubbish ever since.
The latest tiny-budget horror to come out of the UK took two years to film and was produced on the kind of budget that wouldn’t have financed a pre-production planning dinner to discuss how they were going to make The Hobbit. Probably the kindest thing one can say about Any Minute Now is that it comes across as a sincere attempt by a group of enthusiastic amateurs to produce something with a little bit of style and atmosphere. Unfortunately, many of the good intentions are lost in an overly-long running time, the need for some serious editing of dialogue scenes that often lead nowhere, and a few technical problems involving sound pickup and continuity.
Anna Brooks (Mhairi Calvey) is sixteen. When her parents separate she’s sent to a coastal town to live with her grumpy aunt and uncle who, in the best fairy tale traditions, take every opportunity to berate her. Anna suffers from narcolepsy, which here means she might be suffering from hallucinations as well. Some nice little optical tricks and camera angles suggest the house where she’s living may or may not be haunted by the corpse of a little rotting boy. Anna sees other ghosts as well, and it turns out the village is harbouring a nasty secret.
As mentioned above, Any Minute Now comes across as a sincere effort to make a scary film with virtually no money at all, and therefore it is difficult to view its shortcomings too harshly. There are moments that suggest director Peter Goddard loves his MR James, and Herk Harvey’s Carnival of Souls, and quite possibly Night of the Living Dead as well. In an era where most micro-budgeted stuff is still trying to create a zombie apocalypse with a bucket of red paint and some awful heavy metal, it’s actually quite refreshing to see there are filmmakers out there who are trying to achieve something a bit more subtle. While it is very flawed, Any Minute Now deserves support for trying, and it is to be hoped that those involved will have learned enough from making it that their next film will be even more watchable.
JOHN LLEWELLYN PROBERT