Acorn Media’s addictive series of Shudder titles continues with Caveat, Damian McCarthy’s slow-burning and nightmarish directorial debut. The Irish horror film stars Jonathan French as Isaac, a mysterious amnesiac drifter hired by an acquaintance to look after their deeply troubled and psychologically unstable niece Olga (Leila Sykes) who lives alone on a remote island.
The dark and disturbing tale is packed with atmosphere and blood-curdling tension, focusing far more on the intricacies of building dread than outright scares. A quiet and understated approach has certainly been becoming the norm over recent years in so-called ‘elevated horror’, and Caveat’s construction is no different. Chilling visuals and sound design keep the viewer on edge as something could be creeping around the corner at any time – or it could just all be in Isaac’s, and indeed our, head. Performances across the board are solid too, and while budget restraints can be felt occasionally in the film’s clear indie background, it still feels like it can stand toe-to-toe with some of the genre’s recent more expensive flicks.
Caveat is a twisted and harrowing viewing experience that often feels like watching a nightmare unfold – especially when that toy rabbit is on-screen. Yes, anyone who has seen any of Caveat’s marketing will recognise this ugly little thing – purchased via eBay by writer/director McCarthy, stripped of fur and finalised by prop builder Lisa Zagone. This ‘character’ is certainly the star of the film and Caveat’s most memorable asset, even if it is used sparingly. The little git has certainly been on my mind as I’ve tried to drift off to sleep ever since watching the film, and I think that’s a win for filmmaker Damian McCarthy.
CAVEAT is available now on DVD and Blu-ray from Acorn Media