Eight for Silver (2021)
In deepest, darkest Hungary, I’m in a cabin in the woods watching Eight for Silver, with what I can only hope are just mice scratching inside the walls. It’s late at night and pitch black outside except for when a prowling beastie walks too close to the sensor and the lights come on. I twitch but never see what lurks in the woods. It plays on my mind.
From Sean Ellis, the director of Anthropoid, which is an excellent war film boasting some thrilling action and bastard Nazis, I’ve put Eight for Silver on because it looked cool and like something my girlfriend won’t watch. She’s asleep and doesn’t hear the noisy rodent, but is stirred by me banging the walls where the brute is trying to break in. For all my smashing the critter does not abate his battering the cabin. My girlfriend is not impressed with me.
Is this a western or a horror, or both? I think it’s both, though I'm a distracted being. Pleasingly horribly violent from the off, Eight for Silver warns you of what’s coming your way; there’s a one shot destruction of a settlement camp which is rather well put together. As is a grimly believable WW1 opening, which seems at odds with what I’d assumed was a western. Why is it always the Somme though, other WW1 battles are available.
Oh wait this is set in England, so it can’t be a western, unless it’s in Gloucester but then I would have noticed the accents. No! It’s France, so it definitely can’t be a western because France famously doesn’t have a left. All this confusion on my part hasn’t stopped me enjoying Eight for Silver, as I think “this is ace”, about twenty minutes in. And now the horror really begins.
Reminds me of Dead Birds, which I can’t remember anything about save it is a western horror which takes itself pretty seriously too. Although again, and I can’t stress this enough, Eight for Silver is not a western. But it still reminds me of Dead Birds. It’s grizzly. I’m not sure if it is supposed to be scary (because it isn’t really), or if it’s just supernatural, but it doesn’t have to be scary to be good.
Alas, the veneer of aesthetics starts to flake away like ash in the wind. Eight for Silver’s embers die out when it dawns on me that the drama and motivations at its core are a bit basic. What has kept me going were the feelings it gave me, and they distracted me from all else, including my bolt-hole.
CGI fire, my current effects bugbear, burns its way through my suspense of disbelief. I understand it’s cheaper and easier with fewer complications than actually immolating your set/actors but it’s easy to spot AND IT LOOKS SHIT. Also, I paid for Eight for Silver, I want to know that someone risked their life for my money, like I have reviewing it with gargantuan hounds hammering my safety.
Eight for Silver flattered to deceive for a while, long enough that I hoped it might transcend, but in the end it is what it is. And the mouse is back, tinkering away above my head behind wooden panels. The light goes on again, and a cat appears. I try to point it to where the mouse is.
Eight for Silver is a sub-subgenre, which I’m all for. Bearing in mind I knew nothing going in, I literally judged it on its cover (poster), it was a nice surprise. I’ve ruined that surprise, though not the narrative for you so I apologise, I’m sure you’ll get over it but who reads reviews with no spoilers? Literally nobody, let me tell you. Fun in parts and always good to look at. 6/10