The Fiend

Watch The Fiend

"It's a Sickness of the Soul!"
  • R
  • 1972
  • 1 hr 27 min
  • 5.2  (625)

The Fiend, also known by its UK title Beware My Brethren, is a chilling British horror film from 1972 that weaves a tale of fanaticism, manipulation, and murderous obsession. Directed by Robert Hartford-Davis and featuring a cast led by Ann Todd, Patrick Magee, and Tony Beckley, the film delves into the frightening extremes of religious hysteria and its potential to distort the human psyche.

Ann Todd plays Birdy Wemys, the mother of Kenny Wemys, portrayed by Tony Beckley. Kenny is a disturbed young man whose life is dominated by his overly protective and religiously zealous mother. Living in an atmosphere suffused with rigorous piety and moral rectitude, Kenny's reality is heavily influenced by his mother's fanatical Christian beliefs. Birdy Wemys is involved with a Christian sect led by the charismatic, although possibly dubious, Minister, played by Patrick Magee. His thunderous sermons resonate with fire-and-brimstone intensity, further igniting the flames of religious fervor within the congregation.

As the story unfolds, we discover that Kenny's psyche is fracturing under the weight of his mother's expectations and the indoctrination of the church. His inability to form healthy relationships or navigate the secular world outside his religious bubble becomes painfully apparent. Disturbingly, Kenny seems to harbor a particularly intense form of zealotry, one that is quickly spiraling into a perilous obsession.

The movie further taps into the societal undercurrents and anxieties of London in the 1970s. It paints a vivid portrait of a city in the throes of cultural change, where traditional values clash with modern freedoms and the rising permissiveness of the era. The Fiend deftly highlights the alarming impact of sociocultural shifts on individuals who are already on the periphery of society, vulnerable to extremist ideologies.

Kenny Wemys begins to experience a series of delusions that he interprets as divine visions. Driven by these visions and convinced of his own righteous purpose, Kenny embarks on a self-assigned crusade to rid the world of those he deems impure and sinful. As Kenny's behavior grows more erratic and disturbing, the film ramps up the suspense, leading viewers down an unsettling path that questions the true nature of evil and insanity.

The character of Kenny is depicted as both tormentor and tormented, a man whose actions are grotesque yet pitiable, highlighting the human capacity for both brutality and vulnerability. Tony Beckley's performance brings an eerie, unnerving energy to the character, creating a palpable sense of danger every moment he is on screen. His unsettling presence serves as the catalyst for the film's horror, elevating the tension with each scene.

Ann Todd's portrayal of Birdy Wemys is equally compelling. She presents a woman blinded by her fervor, whose love for her son is tangled in the chains of her own fanaticism. The dynamic between mother and son is at the heart of this psychological terror; it's their dysfunctional bond that fuels Kenny's descent and propels the story forward.

Patrick Magee's role as the Minister allows him to showcase his talents in a role that is both menacing and mysterious. He masterfully captures the dual nature of a spiritual leader who may be wielding his influence for more than just the salvation of his flock. The audience is left to grapple with the question of how much responsibility he holds for Kenny's actions as the story unfurls.

The Fiend is a strong entry into the horror genre, thanks to its blend of psychological depth, societal commentary, and traditional suspense. It doesn't rely on the overt gore or jump scares common in horror films. Instead, its horror comes from the dense, oppressive atmosphere and the slow burn of impending doom.

The cinematography is notable for its depiction of grimy London streets and austere interiors, which serve to reinforce the film's themes of isolation and entrapment. The score, although a product of its time, is effective in ramping up the tension and unease throughout the movie.

While The Fiend never achieved blockbuster status, it has garnered a following over the years for its atmospheric mood and thought-provoking narrative. The film's exploration of the darker side of human nature, the dangers of fanaticism, and the thin line between righteousness and madness remains relevant decades after its initial release. As a cultural artifact of the 1970s and an example of British horror cinema, The Fiend continues to offer an unsettling viewing experience for fans of the genre.

The Fiend is a 1972 horror movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 27 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 5.2.

The Fiend
Where to Watch The Fiend
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 27 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    5.2  (625)