William Brent Bell Co-Wrote the Theme Song for Folk Horror Movie ‘Lord of Misrule’ [Interview]

Director William Brent Bell (Orphan: First Kill) is back this week with brand new horror movie Lord of Misrule, a folk horror movie starring Tuppence Middleton and Ralph Ineson (The WitchGreen Knight). Magnet Releasing will release Lord of Misrule in theaters and on VOD on December 8, 2023.

Tom de Ville’s (The Quiet Ones) script has been said to echo The Wicker Man and Midsommar. Like The Wicker ManLord of Misrule also features original folk horror music, particularly a theme song featured over the end credits. It turns out that the folk song was co-written by Bell himself.

The filmmaker shared the story behind the folk horror tune in a recent chat with Bloody Disgusting (part one here) and also touched upon the mysterious new entity prowling the quaint town at the center of the folk horror nightmare.

Brent Bell explains, “It was always one of the designs of the movie to retell the real story, the history in a song. And of course, I freak out over something like that, and I geek out over it, and then I’m like, ‘Well, it’s over the credits. Is anybody ever going to hear it?’ Sam Lee is the guy that made it with me. He is the singer, and he’s also sang the first track. He’s incredible. I listened to his music during pre-production and during production, even when I was at home.

“Then, when we got to the point of the process, which was late, where I’m actually writing the song, I was trying to figure out a way to duplicate what he did in a way, his vibe. The producer said, ‘I’m friends with his brother; why don’t we just call him?’ So then, I have Sam Lee doing the song, writing it with me, who was the guy that was inspiring so much of my audio inspiration for the pre-production and production of the movie. So that whole thing, I’m glad you paid attention to it.”

Lord of Misrule

Tuppence Middleton in LORD OF MISRULE, a Magnet Release. Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.

Lord of Misrule takes its name from an ancient custom that, per Wikipedia, sees a peasant appointed in charge of ‘”Christmas revelries, which often included drunkenness and wild partying.” While Bell’s folk horror tale isn’t set around Christmas, he explains how the rich production value stemmed from his research and the filming locations that already had folk festival customs ingrained in their history.

“It’s a harvest festival that happens in the fall and into the winter, which is when we shot it,” Brent Bell tells BD. “It’s very much that, and it comes so naturally to people from there. For me, it was like a kid in a candy store, everything about it, from the masks to the costumes to the fanfare and the festival and the dancers and everything. Then bringing on the crew like Libby Irwin, who did the costumes, the sketches, the designs of everything, the evolution of those characters, building that mask from concept to sketching, to sculpting and then creating it, it was just amazing the amount artistry and the taste of everybody in the UK.

“Everybody around there grows up around festivals like this, so they all have preconceived notions about certain aspects. For the festival, a lot of the people there, we brought in, they call them Mummer dancers, I think. It’s those people with the big sticks and all. There were a couple of groups of those people that they do that all throughout the year, and so we just had them come and do their thing for us. I think the oldest place we shot in was built in the 1400s. It was a bar. It was so rewarding, is the best way to describe it, to be able to bring all that stuff to life, and with no time and no money.”

Tuppence and Ralph Lord of Misrule

Ralph Ineson in LORD OF MISRULE, a Magnet Release. Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.

Lord of Misrule also sets itself apart from its folk horror ilk with an enigmatic entity, albeit one that lurks in the background compared to the villainous Jocelyn, played by Ralph Ineson.

“In the script, yeah, he was a goat,” Bell says of his folk horror entity. “He’s kind of a goat god with this gnarl of horns and antlers, so he more described what he was in the festival. For me, it was just trying to create something. The team that helped create it, that’s why they came onto the movie. They did a lot of things, but they came on to create that monster. Even though we just barely see them in the movie, it was really exciting trying to create something because in a movie, even if it says something on the page, it sounds very cool. It’s like, this is our opportunity to do something. We’re making a movie that’s going to live forever, so let’s try to make something.

“That doesn’t mean we have to reinvent the wheel completely to where it doesn’t fit the mythology at all, because the history of these mythologies is important to this movie because they’ve been around for a while for a reason. But to try to do something different and make it impactful was the goal.

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