We know Benedict Cumberbatch can do threatening. He even snarled and slithered his way through a mo-capped performance as Smaug in The Hobbit movies. But in Jane Campion’s upcoming Western thriller, he looks properly scary – a menacing man with a knack for whistling a tune that consistently threatens to turn into John Williams’ iconic Jurassic Park score. The acclaimed director behind The Piano, The Portrait Of A Lady and Top Of The Lake is back with her new film The Power Of The Dog – and Netflix has dropped a tense first teaser trailer.

That’s a stark, stirring first look at Campion’s long-awaited return – and she’s assembled a top cast for this one. Cumberbatch plays rancher Phil Burbank, who looks sure to terrify those around him – including Jesse Plemons as his brother George, Kirsten Dunst as George’s wife Rose, and Kodi Smit-McPhee as Rose’s son Peter. Also in the cast for this one is Thomasin McKenzie, Keith Carradine and Frances Conroy. Campion has written the screenplay, adapted from Thomas Savage’s novel. And in news that will delight Radiohead fans, Jonny Greenwood has contributed the score for this one.

Here’s the official synopsis: “Severe, pale-eyed, handsome, Phil Burbank is brutally beguiling. All of Phil’s romance, power and fragility is trapped in the past and in the land: He can castrate a bull calf with two swift slashes of his knife; he swims naked in the river, smearing his body with mud. He is a cowboy as raw as his hides. The year is 1925. The Burbank brothers are wealthy ranchers in Montana. At the Red Mill restaurant on their way to market, the brothers meet Rose, the widowed proprietress, and her impressionable son Peter. Phil behaves so cruelly he drives them both to tears, revelling in their hurt and rousing his fellow cowhands to laughter – all except his brother George, who comforts Rose then returns to marry her. As Phil swings between fury and cunning, his taunting of Rose takes an eerie form – he hovers at the edges of her vision, whistling a tune she can no longer play. His mockery of her son is more overt, amplified by the cheering of Phil’s cowhand disciples. Then Phil appears to take the boy under his wing. Is this latest gesture a softening that leaves Phil exposed, or a plot twisting further into menace?”

The Power Of The Dog poster

The Power Of The Dog is getting its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on 2 September, and will be in some cinemas in November – before arriving on Netflix on 1 December.

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