Disgust over film-makers’ ‘torture’ promotion video


A horror film that will be shot on Chanctonbury Hill is embroiled in controversy this week after a promotional video portraying a torture victim caused outrage.

Complaints poured into our sister paper Sussex Express after it revealed the nature of the promotional video for the new film, due to begin production in May. Appalled readers accused the film-makers of ‘putting down women’ and said it was a display of ‘grotesque abuse’.

The ‘kickstarter campaign’ by Brighton-based company, Substantial Films, was made in a bid to raise £30,000 to fund Backtrack, a feature length film about four friends who go camping on the South Downs and end up tortured, quite literally, by their past.

It will be shot entirely on location by award-winning director Tom Sands, a graduate of Brighton Film School, and producer Haydn West.

Stunned by the multitude of negative responses, Mr West told the County Times: “As far as complaints go, we are of course very sorry if people feel offended.

“It is just a question of taste. Some people enjoy being scared. Also, there is an opportunity to make intelligent cinema within the genre which is what Backtrack offers. People should read the screenplay before judging us.”

Lewes resident, Linda Drabble, was outraged by the torture video that features a woman tied to a chair in a mock ransom appeal.

She wrote: “It is worth remembering that women are fleeing violence everyday.

“Violence against women is no joke.”

Another Lewes resident, Colin Frost-Herbert, wrote: “Such imagery plays to putting women down. The idea that females are young, submissive, highly controllable and open to grotesque abuse is sexism.”

A self-confessed Anglophile and lover of the South Downs, Mr West grew up in the area and believes it to be an ideal location for Backtrack.

“I find it to be the most inspiring place with its clean air and overall feeling of freedom.

“There’s so much history to it - Chanctonbury Hill is associated with the devil, Devil’s Dyke is known as the devil’s footprint and there is 70 miles of chalk hills that is believed to have power.”

However, the crowd-funding campaign that stars Hannah Lowe (who is also PA to pop star Ellie Goulding), has achieved 150,000 views and raised over £1,500 so far.

Mr West said the promo shoot, which depicted a woman being threatened with a blowtorch, also attracted the attention of Kent police after the emergency service received a call from a member of the public who heard screaming.