Rose (Sophie Rundle) and Sam (Matt Stokoe) live remotely in the English woods. They block all natural light from the house, hunt or grow all their food and only venture into town when necessary. Their fragile existence is threatened by Rose’s condition, the consequences of which could be disastrous for everyone.
Modern updates of classical monsters are a well established film genre. Rose is successful in making the mythology its drawing from relevant to a modern scenario. Possession or monsterism as illness is well-explored territory but Rosa focuses on how an illness can cut a couple off from the rest of the world. Their insular existence is rife with guilt, dependency and resentment. It’s an affecting story of two people bound together and torn apart.
All good horror stories position the dark presence as a part of our heroes. A dark reflection of something key to their identity. The curse that haunts our main characters forces them to live away from everyone else and live very pragmatically.
Director Jennifer Sheldon does not lose track of the love story at the heart of this survival film. It’s very much a film about how love binds two people together even when the relationship becomes dangerous. Eventually the film sheds the guise of a medical drama and resolves itself as a straight horror film. The climax is sudden and a little disappointing.
When our two leads need to be familiar and comfortable they excel. They have an easy chemistry and likeable back and forth. However in the bigger moments performances lean towards melodramatic. As the film progresses a third character becomes crucial to the story, one who’s fear and fragility are essential to understanding her actions. However not enough work is put in to make this character sympathetic.
Rosa: A Love Story is a fairly successful modern retelling of a classic monster myth that is also a very capable “medical drama as horror” film. It excels in its simple study of survivalist in the British Country side and as a character study. But when the film bears it’s fangs, it loses something.