Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

This is a haunting stop-motion work, recalling the Victorian era with its profusion of cast iron and string and dolls' house furniture and taxidermy. There is complicated arrangement of red thread and machinery, emanating from a sewing machine and running at one point through a mincing machine. It seems to terminate with a squirrel, with chilling red eyes.

There is a magpie outside. It watches, and is watched, until it flies into a window. It's brought inside for tea, and the titular Battenberg. There are drawers in drawers, hidden compartments, scuttling things, noises - this is unsettling, concerning, rewarding.

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Little touches make it - the music by Raydale Dower and Jamie Bolland is note-perfect, the tea set and the guestbook entries, the doubly-miniature railway that brings the cake from some hidden alcove are all well-judged. The melted doll servitors, the cogs and gears and spindles, the wrapping paper on the structure inside the house, indeed, the house itself all raise questions. The ending is fascinating too, suggesting all sorts of things.

Stewart Comrie's film has already won awards, and it deserves them - unpicking what is on the screen isn't a challenge, but it is a mystery - how whatever it is we are watching came to be, what its motive is - unfathomable, but compelling, it deserves to be sought out. It's a sweet little treat, with a pattern in the middle and a somewhat odd-looking exterior.

Reviewed on: 20 Jun 2010
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Colliding with the dusty window of an abandoned guest-house, an unwitting bird fails to realise the curious horror lurking within.
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Director: Stewart Comrie

Writer: Stewart Comrie

Year: 2010

Runtime: 12 minutes

Country: UK


EIFF 2010

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