The Mire

As we are in the midst of Winter, one favourite pastime that always brings a heartwarming smile is a visit to the cinema. When you find out that a local independent film company have their premiere at No6 Cinema it makes it even more exciting. When you find out that Portsmouth was the place where the filming happened, it makes you want to find out more!

The Mire is a film that is a psychological thriller set over the course of one night, it focuses on Joseph Layton, the charismatic leader of a religious cult known as The Canon, which, after 16 years, and with a now considerably large community of followers, is moving towards its end, an “ascension” that will see Joseph lead his congregation in a mass suicide, in order to take their place among the stars. However, The Canon is a con, a deception that Joseph has used to slowly steal large quantities of money from his followers, and tonight he plans to leave, with no intention of sticking around to lead them towards what they think is their destiny.

What Joseph doesn’t count on, is that two of his most devout followers, Hannah Headley and Marshall Jones, show up at his church before he has a chance to leave and believing that he is testing their faith on the eve of their ascension, plan to attempt to realign him with the beliefs of The Canon, so that he may lead them to their own deaths. Unable to tell the truth, and with only a handful of hours until daybreak, Joseph now finds himself trapped within his own web of lies, and a game of cat and mouse begins to play out, with Joseph, Hannah and Marshall all attempting to maintain control, as a series of personal revelations begin to spiral the situation into threatening areas of both honesty and deception.

The film runs for 95 Minutes. Aired on the 3rd February as a world premiere at No6 Cinema. Tickets are only £6.00 and the film starts at 7pm!

I caught up with the film director Adam Nelson and Chris Watt the writer of the film to ask a few questions and find out more.

Hi Adam and Chris thanks for chatting today.

First of all, where did the idea for The Mire come from?

CW: The characters had been in my head for about ten years, but as with any project, it was as much the subject matter as it was any other factor. I had always wanted to write a story about the phenomenon of cults, and particularly about the people who are drawn to them. Doing my research, I read so many books, and what I ascertained from every one of them is that there is a distinct pattern to how each of these types of communities functions. It’s no surprise that the majority of these stories are retold to us from the perspective of survivors, of those who managed to escape. But these stories are always pointed in one direction, towards an individual, the leader who is able to sell the dogma, and as a writer, I wanted to explore a character like that as well. I had always assumed that I would write a novel about it one day, but it wasn’t until Adam and I started talking, that it felt like perhaps I could take these ideas and characters and place them within a cinematic context.

AN: I’ve always been interested in cults and their allure, and I’ve wanted to tell a story about a cult and its leader for a while now, I just never found the in. When covid hit and we were all locked down I became fascinated with the spread of misinformation online. I found it hard to fathom how these people could suck in intelligent, thoughtful people. This then smashed together with thoughts I’d had a few years ago after the Brexit vote in 2016. The most vivid image I remember from that night was the looks on some of the architects of the movement’s faces when the result was announced. Rather than elation and joy, there was a distinct look of ‘what have we done?’ and ‘oh shit, I’m out of a job.’ These two elements smashing together led me to the story of a charismatic leader who was very good at manipulating people online, whilst being too clever for his own good. His web of lies catches up to him in the end as the people he’s manipulated are so devoted to the cause that they’re able to counter all of his points as he tries to get out of the hole he’s dug for himself.

What is your favourite scene in the film?

AN: The Realignment scene. It’s a scene that has truly evolved over the course of post-production. In the script, it’s structured differently than it appears in the film. After the first two cuts, we realised that the scene worked fine how it was written, but didn’t really have the punch that it could have had if we worked with it a bit more. Seeing the final sequence and how the visuals, the edit, the music, everything comes together to deliver a really well-paced scene that lets the audience know that something has changed at this point. You can really tell that something has changed after this sequence and it leads straight to the climax. Having watched the film over and over again during post-production I can safely say it’s one of two or three scenes in the film I’m not even a little bit sick of.

CW: If I had to pick one, it would be what we call the Dusty Road scene, in which we are finally given the context behind who the character of Marshall is. That scene, and indeed the character of Marshall himself, is based on a friend of mine, who was in the armed forces, not long after 9/11, and who experienced much the same sort of trauma as the character. It’s one of those scenes that I almost don’t remember writing. It poured out of me, very quickly, and it’s one of those scenes that you have to trust yourself on, that regardless of its emotional impact, the actor is going to take it to where it needs to be, and I love how Joseph played the scene. It’s a very exposing moment and it feels like the final piece of the puzzle in terms of who Marshall is, as, up until that point, we don’t quite know where he is coming from, but following on from this scene, it gives the character that extra dimension, that makes the impact of what takes place in the third act far more powerful and bittersweet.

If you would like to support an independent film company and also an independent cinema then please book tickets here for a powerful thriller.

Find out more about the film company here.