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Gothic horror Starve Acre starring Morfydd Clark set for autumn release

02 May 2024 4 minute read
Starve Acre. Image: BFI

Stephen Price

Welsh actor Morfydd Clark stars in a highly anticipated adaptation of the gothic horror novel, Starve Acre, alongside Matt Smith which will be released this autumn.

The latest project from Award-winning director Daniel Kokotajlois is adapted from the critically lauded novel by Andrew Michael Hurley.

Starve Acre is billed as an unsettling contemporary folk horror, with a feel of The Wicker Man in the early 70s.

According to the Guardian’s early review following its showing at the BFI London Film Festival last year, it inhabits “a British world of brown corduroy, Austin 1100s, no central heating, odd locals and a persistent, sinister encroaching gloom in the countryside.

“The movie teeters on a knife-edge between scary and silly, and yet without that weird flavour of silly, the scares wouldn’t mean as much.”


Matt Smith and Morfydd Clark play Richard and Juliette, an unhappy couple who in the time-honoured tradition of Don’t Look Now who experience a family tragedy with their young son.

Richard and Juliette move to Richard’s late father’s house on the Yorkshire moors: the bleak place where he grew up,  Starve Acre.

Starve Acre. Morfydd Clark image: Chris Harris

Juliette has amiably gone along with this new move, believing that the healthy countryside would be good for their son. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth.

With Juliette coming under the influence of a mysterious local woman and Richard obsessively throwing himself into his work, sinister events unfold.


At Starve Acre, their remote family home, academic archaeologist Richard buries himself in exploring a folkloric myth that the ancient oak tree that once stood on their land is imbued with phenomenal powers.

While Juliette turns to the local community to find some kind of peace, Richard obsessively digs deeper. An unexpected discovery soon occupies the couple’s attention and dark and sinister forces, unwittingly allowed into their home, offer a disturbing possibility of reconnection between them.

Director Daniel Kokotajlo says: “I’m a sucker for films that put a spell on you with their attitudes and strange sensibilities.

“English folk tales like Starve Acre give you an opportunity to do that. It’s not just horror; it ends up in a weird, off-kilter place.

“It can be uncomfortably quiet and sensitive, then suddenly it slaps you in your face with its oddballness.

“That was the aim of this film: to create a mood of nervousness. Making an audience nervous results in a whole range of reactions: tears, screams or giggles. It’s my idea of cathartic fun.

“Starve Acre also taps into a timeless fear that feels more relevant than ever: the idea that returning home, to nature, and regressing into childhood, is a big mistake.

“The film removes the nostalgic, rose-tinted glasses, and shows us that there are dark things, long-buried superstitions, awaiting our return.”

Morfydd Clark

Morfydd Clark’s career has been building steadily since her starring roles in Saint Maud, Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and The Personal History of David Copperfield.

Morfydd Clark

Clark was born in Sweden and moved with her family to Penarth, when she was two years old.

She described her father as a “Northern Irish Glaswegian”, and her maternal side is from north Wales.

Clark portrayed a younger version of the character Galadriel in Season 1 of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power on Amazon Prime.

She has said that she is “proud” that being a Welsh speaker influenced her portrayal of her bilingual character, Galadriel.

She said: “I feel I can be much more romantic and deep in Welsh. So that was really useful for me, because I was thinking, ‘[What’s the] language of her heart? What language does she think in?'”

Morfydd Clark. Picture by Amazon

In another interview, the actor discussed her education in Welsh: “Well, I went to a Welsh language school and everything is taught in Welsh. Welsh is phonetic, so it’s great for people with dyslexia.

“I started learning English in the third year. What my Tolkien-obsessed mother was really proud of and passed on to us was that Tolkien was inspired by the Welsh.”

She also mentioned enjoying speaking in Welsh on-set with co-stars Owain Arthur and Trystan Gravelle.

Starve Acre is in cinemas on 6 September.

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