The Shout is a film that I didn’t even hear about for years. It certainly isn’t popular, and I don’t know that its a cult classic. I’m not even sure that most people even remember Alan Bates anymore. It is positively skin crawling in a way that most films can never be. Its not because you think there’s something in your house, or because you are merely appalled. Its worse than that.
At the risk of meandering, there is a absolute debate in this country over guns, and what sort of guns people should have and so on. In the end, this argument is fueled by fear. Fear of the other. Fear for one’s families. Fear of being very personally violated. The Shout is about those fears.
John Hurt is Anthony Fielding, a simple man, a musician, who has a nice life in a rather pastoral part of England. He has an attractive wife (played by Susannah York) and maybe that’s the problem. Because at some point, a mysterious transient stranger named Crossley makes the decision that he wants Fielding’s wife, and the rest of his life as well.
Crossley has just come back from the outback, and he has learned a few tricks from the aborigines. He ingratiates his way into the Fielding’s life, and then puts the wife under his spell. As he debases her further and further, the husband is helpless to fight back, especially when he learns of Crossley’s most impressive power, a lethal shout that kills everyone that it is directed at. Eventually, he dispossessed completely, put out of his own home.
Or is that what happened at all?
This story is being told (to Tim Curry!) at a cricket match on an insane asylum, and it is told by the most unreliable of narrators, the incarcerated Crossley, an admitted murderer of his own children. Some details in The Shout are not entirely clear, and the ending infers that Crossley’s comeuppance does not come by natural means. But he remains a unique character in horror, not a knife wielding maniac, or a vengeful spirit, but a hermit crab – always looking for a new victim.