Jack and Ella travel alone across the desolate landscape of the Yorkshire Dales. They avoid people, towns and cities, keeping off the grid and clearly on the run.
As they move through the countryside, they are seemingly pursued by a mysterious figure: an official, perhaps, or some kind of functionary, with some kind of agenda and power of his own. The two forces will eventually collide, to memorable and fearsome effect.
Writer-director Guy Soulsby conjures a pervasive atmosphere of fear and dread, inspired by the Biblical story of the apocalypse. With dark, somber cinematography, a minimal approach to both dialogue and narrative and taut performances, the film offers a world that is bleak and forbidding and a story that is foreboding and mysterious.
The story takes its time to develop, but with the help of judicious editing, the film is still able to ratchet up tension, juxtaposing sounds, images and information to create uncertainty and tension. The short gives away just enough detail to keep viewers compelled, but the unanswered questions are really what draw audiences forward. The pace is measured and deliberate, and if viewers are able to enter its rhythms, they should be rewarded with plenty of fear and menace.
“God’s Kingdom” is on the longer side of a short film, but the fullness of its imagination gives it an epic scope that begs to be extended into a feature. It offers a rich, textured atmosphere, evoking a layer of underworld lurking beneath the grim surfaces of our reality.
The world of the film is clearly modern in “God’s Kingdom,” but its worldview is almost ancient in its invocation of evil, religion and the terrors of the unseen. Perhaps we believe we’ve moved beyond the idea of angels, demons and the like, but they still move uneasily in the shadows of our collective imagination, uneasily populating our troubled sleep and rearing their heads in ways that are fresh, inventive and utterly compelling.