Bella in the Wych Elm (Thomas Lee Rutter, 2017)

Bella in the Wych ElmBella in the Wych Elm (2017)

Running time: 35 mins. 57 sec.
Directed by: Tom Lee Rutter Produced by: Tom Lee Rutter
Starring: James Underwood, Lee Mark Jones, Sarah L. Page, James Taylor, “Tatty” Dave Jones.

Carnie Films (DVD) (UK R0 PAL) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)

In 1943 a group of English boys wandering the woodland of Hagley Hall discovered the remains of an unknown woman stuffed inside a hollowed Wych Elm tree. The woman’s identity remains a mystery to this day. Graffiti that spells WHO PUT BELLA IN THE WYCH ELM still occasionally adorns the walls in the surrounding area .

Shot in 2017 using DSLR cameras with the footage then heavily overlaid with scratches, dust and artefacts in post production to achieve the desired vintage look, BELLA IN THE WYCH ELM is the latest film from UK Indie talent Tom Lee Rutter (THE FORBIDDEN FOUR, DAY OF THE STRANGER). Tom Lee Rutter weaves themes of witchcraft, restless ghosts and WW2 espionage into a visually rich phantasmagoria. 

BELLA IN THE WYCH ELM has done very well on the festival circuit and has become a calling card for director Tom Lee Rutter, who’s currently working on another quaint tale of the supernatural.

In July 2017,  BELLA IN THE WYCH ELM bowed on UK DVD courtesy of Carnie Films. This DVD, supervised by the director himself, features both the original cut of the film and  the “silent film version” with title cards. The latter version plays very much like a proper 1930s production. The only audio option for the original cut is the English audio track (2.0 Stereo), presented in Dolby Digital. Anyone who’s not from the Midlands is bound to struggle with the narrator’s regional accent, so the title cards on the silent version come in very handy. The silent cut comes with two optional music scores, one by Craigus Barry, the other by Deathly Pale Party. There are no subtitles on this DVD. The film’s effective trailer is also included as an extra on the disc. Each DVD also comes with three elaborate colour postcards with images from the film.

Reviewed on April 29, 2018 by Alex Bakshaev