Returning from the trenches of the First World War, Raymond Pennyworth and his shell-shocked younger brother Thomas find their Lancashire hometown not as it once was. The streets seem duller and more hopeless than before. Lacking work, the pair spends their days dismally walking the streets.
They see that despondency and sadness have captured the spirits of every person they encounter. Grief-stricken women weep openly on the omnibus, the faraway horror-shaken stares of fellow men are unbearably familiar to them.
Raymond recognises that Thomas' once-promising career as an apprentice draughtsman is over. Thomas is scarcely able to sleep, so terror-riven are his dreams. Their parents can't bring themselves to face the fact that the fields of Flanders changed their sons forever, so full of pride and denial are mother and father. And Raymond can’t yet face the most painful truth: Caught up in Raymond’s patriotic fervor Thomas was not of military age and lied so he could enlist and join his brother in defeating the Boche.
Their young sister, Tabitha, dreaming of the Bright Young Things she reads about in her tittle-tattle magazines, thinks Raymond and Thomas are just silly boys who just need a good night-out on the town. Tabitha takes them to a dancehall in nearby Oldham, where local 'jass' sensation Dick Skive and his Thighslapping Five play the latest sounds from Chicago, Kansas City, New Orleans, and Rochdale.
Drinking heavily and tapping to syncopated crazy rhythms of "The Tewkesbury Rag", "Fidgety Clogs", and "Take Me By The Mill-Race", Raymond's mood cheers in the course of the evening, especially after a sultry Hathershaw lass comes onto him. As Raymond takes the girl in his arms, he suddenly breaks away seized by an arresting memory of a mildly homosexual encounter one night while sheltering under fire in a bombcrater. He grabs Thomas from the bench where he has spent the evening rocking manically to his own rhythms of self-revulsion and stormily they force-march themselves homeward through driving, midnight rain.
Waking his parents Raymond declares his intention to leave and seek a new life for himself and Thomas over the Pennines in the promised land of Yorkshire and its wind-bleakened hill farms. Father, disgusted at his son's blasphemy, utters a curse that will beset Raymond and Thomas for the brief rest of their days...
Critics rave about Morbid Bleakness
"Their tears were real, so will yours be!"
“Morbid Bleakness is a powerful film! By the end I felt shellshocked!”
"The Real-3D depiction of Oldham makes the place seem almost habitable!"