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Film / The Shout

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The Shout is a 1978 British horror film directed by Jerzy Skolimowski, based on a short story by Robert Graves that was adapted for the screen by Michael Austin. The film stars Alan Bates, Susannah York, John Hurt, Robert Stephens and Tim Curry, and features Jim Broadbent in his first feature role.

Bored while officiating a cricket match at a psychiatric hospital in Devon, Crossley (Bates) tells visitor Robert Graves (Curry) the story of a mysterious stranger, also named Crossley, who invades the lives and house of local musician Anthony Fielding (Hurt) and his wife Rachel (York). The stranger claims knowledge of real magic, which he uses to displace the former and dominate the latter. Anthony must find a way to combat Crossley and his seemingly implacable powers. Graves, doubting Crossley's claim that his story is true, begins to suspect that Crossley is actually one of the patients.


  • Lonely Funeral: Tom the shepherd's is attended only by The Vicar, Anthony the organist, and three mourners, one of whom leaves partway through the service.
  • Love Spell: Crossley tells Rachel how Aboriginal magic men can take a minor possession belonging to a woman and enchant it to cause her to fall in love with him. He later does this to her by stealing a buckle off one of her shoes.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: Crossley claims to possess the ability to utter a shout that can kill anyone who hears it. Within the story he tells, this is certainly true.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: There is no way of telling if the lightning strike that kills the chief medical officer at the end of the film is a result of Crossley's supposed magical powers, or merely a natural phenomenon that appears to magical because of the story Graves has been listening to.
  • Naked Nutter: When the thunderstorm hits, one of the mental patients who is fielding in the cricket game responds by stripping off all of his clothes, dancing in the rain and smearing himself with cow manure.
  • Offing the Offspring: Crossley admits to murdering the children he had with his Aboriginal wife: claiming that this a cultural norm for and acceptable within the tribe, so long that it is done within a few weeks of birth.
  • Pop-Star Composer: The film's score was composed by Genesis keyboardist Tony Banks. As of 2021, the full soundtrack has not seen an official release, although the main theme can be found on Banks' album A Curious Feeling under the title "From the Undertow".
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: Crossley invites himself to lunch at Anthony and Rachel's and then just does not leave: gradually taking over their lives, possibly through magical means.
  • Unreliable Narrator: There is no way of verifying any details of Crossley's story, and given the self-serving nature of his tale, it is likely that he fudging facts even if the events are broadly true.
  • Vehicular Sabotage: Crossley lets the air of the tyres of Anthony's bicycle at the church, to delay him long enough to inveigle him into conversation.