By Leo Collis.
After working in film and television for nearly a decade, Russell Owen steps up to present his debut full-length production, Welcome to the Majority.
The film is centred on a post-apocalyptic purgatory, where nine people are forced to face their demons to find a way out. Split into four chapters, the story focuses on an old bedridden woman, two chess-playing men and a young man looking after his mother. Not interested? How about a murderous, one-eyed man, a man who thinks a doll is his girlfriend, and a cannibal? Maybe that grabbed your attention.
The story itself is enthralling, as it switches between characters and setting in a slick and seamless manner. Jump cuts and electronic screeches instil a sense of horror throughout, which keeps the audience on edge with the constant fear of ‘the demons’. The stunning, serene, and sparse scenery of the North Wales countryside enhances this fear, as any unknown sound or person becomes a threat.
Welcome to the Majority unfolds with a controlled pace without grinding to a halt. While the narrative could have been overawed with religious connotations and commentaries – due to the idea of purgatory itself – it lets the characters’ own personalities and stories grow, without the burden of them carrying or enforcing a strong religious message.
The monochromatic bleakness of purgatory, as well as the characters’ mannerisms and dialogue, suggests elements of Beckett – especially with the overbearing feeling that the characters have no idea what it is they are looking for or running from. However, the way the film is cut is similar to styles associated with J.J. Abrams – flashbacks and quick cuts distort time and reality, whilst emphasising the importance of memory.
Abrams’ television series Lost (2004) does indeed come to mind, with the themes of purgatory, and the multi-character, interlinking narrative. But, like Lost, the close to Welcome does fall just a tiny bit flat. Although the ending didn’t need to be explosive or truly shocking, with just a little extra punch, Owen’s first effort could have left a greater imprint in the viewer’s memory.
However, with an intriguing plot, gorgeous cinematography and some excellent performances from an unknown cast, Owen’s first full-length attempt is a thoroughly worthwhile and rewarding watch. I, for one, will be keeping a close eye on his next endeavour.
Leo Collis is a Film, Media and Journalism graduate from The University of Stirling. Now an aspiring film writer, Leo is looking for projects that will challenge him and further increase his love of film.
Read Leo Collis’ interview with director Russell Owen here.
Director Russell Owen
Screenplay by Russell Owen
Original Story by Russell Owen
Producers Helen L Alexander, Russell Owen
Directors of Photography Paul Calver, Louisa Rowley
With Cullum Austin (George), Mary Benn (Margret), Avril Brady (Karen), Lee Cheney (Richard), Olegar Fedoro (Elderly Chess Player), Meryl Griffiths (Mother), Philip Hurd-Wood (Vicar), Keaton Makki (Young Chess Player), Katy Withers (Nurse), Francis Woolf (Rhys)
Runtime 105 minutes