›› The Secret Path ‹‹

a film by Richard Mansfield.

2014 | 77 mins | UK.

a supernatural tale of same-sex love.

starring: Darren Bransford / Frank, Henry Regan / Theo, Miguel Campbell-Lewis / Thomas and Daniel Mansfield as Charles.

Official Synopsis:

On the run from the British Navy in 1810, lovers Frank and Theo hide out in the grounds of a large country manor. Only when Theo keeps seeing a dark and sinister figure watching them and later haunting his dreams, the pair are set to discover that it's more than the living they're running from.

Dave says:

Making the most of its micro-budget, this experimental production from Richard and Daniel Mansfield is a glowing testament to the adage "where there's a will, there's a way". For here we find the Mansfield boys delight in creating a film in which "threat and tension was external to a tender and loving relationship".

In short, this is a supernatural tale of same-sex love with its gay element proudly taking centre stage, even if the result makes for an uneven mix of positives and negatives, coupled with an all too repetitive switch to monochrome to convey the demonic side of the story. That said and in spite of some shaky camera work, there's nevertheless light at the end of the path, thanks in no small part to Darren Bransford and Henry Regan who wonderfully express the emotions of a pair of sailors, gone AWOL, only to discover that the souls of the dead are not far behind them. And whilst the boys are not afraid to get down to some naked hanky-panky, it's their scenes of overt gay affection that beautifully illustrate their deep love, only for such to be interrupted by a soundtrack that signals the film's supernatural element is but a heartbeat away. And here I'm at a loss to explain this increasingly bizarre aspect of the feature and an ending that offers little in the way of explanation. Then again and with dialogue improvised by the leads, this is a work that in part was clearly developed on-the-go, and frankly - it shows.

Be that as it is, this still makes for a welcome break from the seemingly never ending Sex in the City works of late, being a rare example of gay period drama, as filmed mainly on location in the lush English countryside and here cue the outskirts of London. Only given the heavy use of classical music throughout, including the haunting beauty of Adagio in G Minor for Strings and Organ, the lack of compositional credits, is somewhat amiss. But as an exemplification of what can be produced on a shoestring budget, it speaks volumes; IF ONLY more time had been spent on narrative development and characterization, rather than one too many walks in the woods that go nowhere.

That the Mansfield boys have excelled in capturing the close bond between two men, who away from the disapproving eyes of society, are finally able to openly express their passionate love for each other, is not in doubt. Indeed and for all of the supernatural aspirations of the story, their love is the true heart of the film and certainly the part that I enjoyed the most. Need more be said?

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - bare-arsed cheek. 
Overall - file under ... 2+ stars. 

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