Alan Dee’s film preview: It didn’t take 12 years to find another movie-friendly slavery story

After the critical and commercial success of 12 Years A Slave, it’s no surprise that Hollywood has been looking to serve up other stories with similar ingredients.


So say hello to Belle – based on a true story, handsome historical drama, examining issues surrounding the slave trade. Tick, tick, tick.

This is a world away from Steve McQueen’s devastating drama, though – Belle is more Downton Abbey territory than down on the plantation.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays the mixed-race beauty raised as an aristocrat in 18th century England – and to be fair, she is part of the family, one of many children born of liaisons between masters and slaves in the far-off Caribbean.


Despite her inherited wealth, the colour of her skin condemns her to outsider status, and then she falls for the son of a reforming vicar.

There’s a top notch Brit cast and it all looks lovely, but it’s a bit stodgy.

Doctor Who sidekick Karen Gillan makes her bid for screen stardom in Oculus, a confusing would-be spine-chiller about a woman trying to prove her brother, recently released from a secure hospital, didn’t really kill their parents and it was all the fault of the evil mirror in the family home.

It comes from the team behind Paranormal Activity and Insidious, and offers some satisfyingly creepy moments, but the most unsettling thing is probably Amy Pond talking with an American accent.

Watch out for Devil’s Knot, the latest from Atom Egoyan – Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon lead a ‘true story’ tale about three Bible Belt teenagers railroaded for the killing of a trio of little boys and the fight to clear them. Colin’s the investigator, Reese the mum of one of the victims determined to find out the truth.