Newly married couple Joe and Emily have inherited Joes’ Grandfather’s apple orchard in rural Gloucestershire. The orchard keeps them afloat, but they dream of more. Their ambition is fed by the success of their neighbour, Sir William Pent, the most successful orchard owner in the country. Unsure of how to compete, Emily is approached by Pent with an offer. He will give her the dark secret to a bountiful harvest if only she reaches out and takes it. Though furious she has gone behind his back, Joe eventually admits it’s their only option to ever grow their business. They meet with Pent who reveals his success is the result of ritualistic sacrifice – and they can reap the benefits with him if they but take one life. Even providing a hand-picked victim there and then, Pent urges them to strike and get everything they have wanted. Joe and Emily argue back and forth as to how best to do it or if they even should, as Pent hisses his encouragement. Frustrated with the delay, Emily commits the ultimate sin. The following harvest, they gaze on the fruits of their labour unaware of the red and blue flashing lights behind them.
Wassail is adapted from the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis, particularly the passage in which they both take a bite from the Apple. The biblical text focusses on the consequences of Adam and Eve’s actions but in this film, we’re interested in how Joe and Emily come to decide to commit the sin. We wanted to write about ambition and how it affects our choices. In Gen 3:6, Eve chooses to disobey God for the chance of something better in taking the first bite – she makes a choice born from ambition. Genesis passes over Eve’s decision. We were inspired by the idea that such an important choice with such long lasting effects in the Bible was explored so minimally considering how Eve has been spoken about since. We find it hard to believe that were this scenario to happen, Adam and Eve wouldn’t have a hushed argument in front of the snake – much like Joe and Emily deliberating whether to kill a man for the sake of a harvest. Wassail explores why an innocent couple could commit such a heinous act. Is it for their own personal gain? Or is it from the external pressure applied?