Damian Mc Carthy’s directorial debut that taps right into my heart with its psychological twists and turns that are so fractured that I can’t help but be lured in to its complexities.
This style of narration can turn some people off and get frustrated by the director’s choice. Especially with the convoluted ending to the tale.
I just lap this stuff up as if addicted to the abstract approach to fear, guilt, and paranoia.
Clearly, its tight budget constraints are on show, but Mc Carthy manages to utilse the deficits to his advantage, and wrangles everything that his actors can muster to the fore, particularly through our lead protagonist, Isaac (Jonathon French), who struggles to piece things together because he is suffering amnesia. Also, placing the setting on an desolate house on a remote island fuels the anxiety and isolation, amping up emotions of both characters and his audience.
The film is quite hard to unpack, but essentially we follow Isaac to this isolated island when hired to look after Olga (Leila Sykes), who also appears psychologically disturbed and constantly falls into catatonic states, hence the need for someone to supervise her. Our first introduction to Olga is deeply scarring as she wields a curiously freakish wind up toy, a symbol of the unhinged minds of all that enter the house.
We have to allow our minds to stretch into the realms of the unimaginable to a degree, when Issac agrees to the caveat in question, being chained into a harness that restricts him from accessing certain parts of the house; another metaphor for the ties that bind us to our past regrets. The wielder of the caveat is Olga’s uncle Barret (Ben Caplan), who comes and goes throughout the piece but his presence is always felt.
As Isaac fumbles around the crevices of the ramshackled abode, more truths are uncovered but still steers us further away from transparency. The deeper he delves, the more unhinged and dangerous the characters become.
It’s a bold and momentous achievement for a directorial debut, and while it doesn’t necessarily tick all the boxes, the performances are faultless, and the fragmented narrative are compelling enough to keep you chained to the storytelling.
It will either grip you, or grind you up.
For me, it was a well-constructed tale, that is just the right side of deranged.
- Saul Muerte