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By James Whittington, Tuesday 22nd February 2022 Caveat Acorn Media Certificate 15 ****
Another review and another directorial debut, this time Damian Mc Carthy is in the driving seat of Caveat, one of the most impressive psychological horror movies I've seen in a long time.
Amnesiac drifter Isaac (Jonathan French) struggles to recall his recent past after a traumatic event, but shifty 'friend' Barret (Ben Caplan) offers to help him back on his feet with a profitable babysitting job. All he has to do is look after his adult niece (Leila Sykes). But there is a Caveat: The isolated house is plagued by a gruesome past which has left Olga psychologically disturbed, and Isaac must wear a leather harness and chain restricting his movement to certain rooms. Once in the harness and left alone with Olga, a terrifying game of cat and mouse ensues, and Isaac must fight for survival amid the unsettling resurgence of his own memories. Can Isaac piece the fragments together before it's too late?
Truly tense and chilling, Caveat is a perfectly paced excursion into the darkest recesses of the mind. Mc Carthy directs with supreme confidence, allowing the surreal feel of the movie to wash over you with flashbacks and jump scares to keep you off guard. His use of light and camera angles prove he knows exactly the unease he wants you to feel, especially during one specific scene 15 minutes from the end. The cast add a mature authenticity to the piece, Jonathan French delivers an outstanding take of a man with a (possibly) fragmented mind.
The use of the house as an extra character pays dividends here and when you add a mysterious toy rabbit complete with drum then you've the perfect set up for tense atmosphere and tension.
The sepia image gives certain sequences an added air of eerie timelessness whilst the sound mix, made up mainly of howling wind and a subtle but atmospheric score from Richard G. Mitchell.
The disc comes with Director's Commentary, Producer's Commentary, and Storyboards.
Caveat is up there with Possum (2018) from Matthew Holness for its bleakness and unrelentingly dark subject. This is definitely one for your collection.
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