The Droving (2020) Review
By Hayley Alice Roberts
George Popov’s The Droving is a masterclass in independent genre filmmaking, delivering an effective mystery that effortlessly engages the viewer. Daniel Oldroyd plays Martin, a returning soldier on a mission to locate his missing sister in the scenic landscapes of Penrith. It is believed that his sister vanished a year previously during a local festival known as ‘The Droving’. Combining folklore with mystery, The Droving takes the viewer on an unforgettable and compelling journey in a dramatic tale of vigilante justice through the eyes of a tormented central character.
While taking inspiration from Robin Hardy’s classic folk horror The Wicker Man (1973) in its narrative and imagery, The Droving manages to hold its own, unfolding in an individual style and direction. This is certainly a more refreshing approach in paying homage to a classic film, paying respect by illustrating its influence without attempting to become a carbon copy. With the overall premise adhering to familiar territory, Popov ensures that the plot remains unpredictable as it progresses, leaving the viewer in suspense as to where events will eventually lead.
The Droving is an instantaneously captivating film, containing spectacular cinematography by Harry Young. Young captures the stunning nature of the landscape and surroundings, evoking the setting as a character in its own right, allowing for an exceptionally immersive viewing experience alongside the lead character’s engrossing story arc.
Daniel Oldroyd confidently carries the film as his character endeavours to uncover the truth behind his sister’s disappearance. Oldroyd delivers an intense performance as its unclear to what lengths he will go to for answers. Martin is a fully-fledged, well rounded character encompassing flaws while garnering enough sympathy for his tragic situation ensuring as viewers we are absorbed into his story, on edge as his determination grows in his search for a lost loved one.
The Droving peels back so many storytelling layers within its duration, however with only an 80-minute run time it never feels taxing, nor does it run out of steam. Popov drives the film to exactly where it needs to be without resorting to filler or dragging out the plot which is commendable especially with this being an early entry into his feature filmmaking career. The film features a stunningly haunting score by Matthew Laming that heightens the sense of eeriness that the film evokes, complimenting the disquieting beauty of the location.
Enigmatic and doused in mythology, The Droving is an emotional, character-driven piece that proves that a high standard of filmmaking can be achieved on a limited budget succeeding in impacting the viewer. The Droving packs an emotional punch without big budget special effects, offering a thought-provoking, psychological tale with a lot to take from it. Without giving the game away, the ending will remain in the mind long after the credits roll.
The Droving is produced by Rubicon films who specialise in independent filmmaking with a fairytale and folklore slant. The Droving is available on amazon prime which is utterly fantastic in allowing the film and company to grow their audience on an accessible, widely watched platform. Their next feature film, Iron Hearts, pitched as “Beauty and the Beast meets Game of Thrones” is currently in development.
★ ★ ★ ★
Hayley Alice Roberts,