★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★
Fans of classic British horror anthologies should find plenty to admire in independent chiller The Numbers.
Directed by Andrew Elias
In the grand tradition of British portmanteau horror films comes writer/director Andrew Elias’ The Numbers, a gothic-tinged outing about the lives of people living in different time periods who all cross paths with Madame Mimi, intriguingly played by Peyvand Sadeghian. This fortune teller makes predictions using simple objects that her clients choose out of a box and, of course, numbers. The film is bookended by a 1912-set sequence featuring Elias in the role of a gentleman seemingly just going about his daily routine . . . until it is interrupted by fate.
In the opening story after the 1912 introduction, Lilly Driscoll stars as Millie, a curious young woman who tempts fate in a segment set in 1955. She finds herself fixated on the fast-approaching time of death that Madame Mimi predicts for her. This was the strongest of the segments for me, with Driscoll giving an absorbing performance.
The next segment is set in 1983, with down-on-his-luck musician Colin (Nicky Stephens) trying to compose a new hit song when he happens upon a volume in a bookstore that contains Madame Mimi’s business card.
The final tale, set in 2018, concerns a young man named Daniel (Howie Cobby) who happens upon a seemingly lost wallet while jogging. The wallet contains only Madame Mimi’s business card, and a reluctant but curious Daniel goes to visit her. This segment features a highly amusing sidestory bit as pub landlady Sandra (Jo Burke in a fun, energetic turn) regales Daniel with her memories of once being involved in a fortune teller’s stage show.
At a lean running time of 48 minutes, Ciao Handy production The Numbers weaves its initial spell quickly and rewards viewers with imaginative tales of the uncanny and eerie. Elias eschews jump scares and gruesome special effects for wonderfully presented modern takes on traditional and classic horror tales focused on mystery, suspense, and the preternatural.
The Numbers screened at Horror-on-Sea Film Festival, which runs January 10th –19th at Park Inn by Raddison Palace, Southend-on-Sea, U.K. The Numbers is also available for purchase or rent on Amazon.