New Age inclusiveness is like an icy shower on a dark December morning for most up tight, emotionally constipated Brits. Candy (Elaine Cassidy) is Irish and disabled - she jumped off a wall into a swimming pool when she was younger, “but my heart wasn’t in it” and missed. She is the last arrival at Serenity Lodge, where a seven step programme, called Adventures In Truth, run by the elegantly slim, white clad Donna Shuck (Elizabeth McGovern) from California is about to begin.

Set in an isolated hunting lodge in the Scottish Highlands, there are six other recruits for the week’s course, which consists, it seems, of sitting around in a circle and being encouraged to tell the truth, no matter how appalling, or painful.

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“You are all liars,” Donna tells them sweetly. “And your true self is beautiful.”

One girl confesses to chopping a pervert up into manageable chunks and feeding bits of him to the neighborhood dogs. Another talks of her father’s murder. Candy is sceptical of such self-conscious indulgence, finding the experience deeply uncomfortable, and is not shy in expressing her cynicism.

“Irony has no place in this room,” Donna scolds, gently. “This is a circle of truth.”

Also, no one can leave.

The film is not so much a satirical dig at the artificiality of holistic therapy, as a disturbing thriller. When one of the group is found strangled in the woods, suspicion falls on everyone, including the wheelchaired Candy.

Typically, Donna takes a positive view.

“This is more than a murder,” she tells them, without a trace of insincerity. “It is a cry for help.” Not, as you might expect, to the police.

As well as death, there is sex, in which the down-to-earth, up-for-it Felix (Stephen Lord) takes full advantage and not only with the dot-com millionairess Martha (Rachael Stirling), who likes it rough, outside, and on all fours.

Tension mounts when it appears that Candy is in danger and the group closes ranks. Co-writer/director George Milton avoids the pitfalls of mind-washed religious cult horror flicks by creating characters that remain true to their own insecurities. Also, no one respects stereotypes and what you think is about to happen so often doesn’t and the tall shadow of The Wicker Man fades away like mist.

The performances are admirable, especially Cassidy, remembered so well from Felicia’s Journey, and Green Wing’s Karl Theobald, as an acolyte who stumbles out of denial (“I’m not gay!”) to please the high priestess of truth and light.

But, hey, whodunit?

Reviewed on: 04 Feb 2007
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Darkly comic self-help murder mystery in the Scottish Highlands.
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Read more The Truth reviews:

Kotleta ***
Scott Macdonald ***

Director: George Milton

Writer: George Milton, Mark Tilton

Starring: Elaine Cassidy, Elizabeth McGovern, Stephen Lord, Karl Theobald, Rachael Stirling, Lea Mornar, Zoe Telford, William Beck, Sean Murray, Amelia Bullmore, Sheyla Shehovich, David Cann

Year: 2006

Runtime: 114 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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