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Review: THE NUMBERS (2018) Horror-On-Sea 2020

The Numbers is an anthology that even as a complete film could be classed as a short rather than a feature. It manages to fit three stories and a wraparound segment into just 48 minutes. Much to his credit, writer/director Andrew Elias does this without any of the segments feeling rushed or incomplete.

The wraparound is called “1912”. We see a man (Andrew Elias) as he nervously awaits something. He reads a book and otherwise tries to kill time before noticing a card for a fortune-teller, Madame Mimi (Peyvand Sadeghian) on a noticeboard. This is all shown with no dialogue.

Next up is “1955 – Twelve”. Millie (Lilly Driscoll, Clean As You Like) tells a friend she’s going to see a fortune-teller. She shows her the woman’s card. It’s the same one we saw in the previous segment.

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Her fortune isn’t a pleasant one. She’s told she’ll die “When the hands point North”. We see her try to distract herself as the hands on the clock move towards midnight. That distraction includes reading a book, The Devil In Woodford Wells. She uses Mimi’s card as a bookmark just before the segment ends.

We move forward from there to “1983 – Six”. Colin (Nicky Stephens) is a songwriter struggling to complete his latest piece. Needing a break and maybe some inspiration, he visits a used book store. He finds a familiar-looking book that still has Madame Mimi’s card in it. And she’s still at the same address.

She predicts a visit from a supernatural entity is in his immediate future. But we all know who is lurking in the details.

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The third story, “2018 – Zero” begins with a jogger (Howie Cobby) finding the wallet we saw Colin with. It’s empty now except for Mimi’s card. The real highlight of this segment is actually Sandra (Jo Burke) reminiscing about visiting a fortune-teller when she was younger.

Then it’s back to “1912” to wrap things up with a twist.

Elias says the anthology films of Amicus, Tyburn, etc were the inspiration for The Numbers. However, with its more restrained feel, it actually reminded me more of the 1945 film Dead Of Night. Given the film’s lack of violence, gore or jump scares, it really does feel like something from that era.

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And this is both The Numbers‘ greatest strength and weakness. It’s a charming little film and quite enjoyable to watch. But it’s a bit too refined to fully work as a horror film. The segments end on fitting notes, but they lack the proper kind of sting or “gotcha” that the segments of films like The House That Dripped Blood or Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors had. The result feels a bit more BBC or PBS than Hammer Horror.

On a technical level, The Numbers and its crew really deserve a lot of praise. For a film with next to no budget, it pulls off multiple period settings remarkably well. Pulling one setting off can be a challenge for a low budget film, Elias and his team went above and beyond here.

For those that enjoy older style tales of the supernatural, The Numbers will be a real treat. Others may find it entertaining but missing something.

The Numbers is available on Amazon UK. Hopefully, it will expand to other countries.

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