Reviews | Written by Martin Unsworth 02/06/2021

CAVEAT

Every job has a uniform.” Issac (Jonathan French), suffering from amnesia, has taken a job looking after Barret’s (Ben Caplan) neice Olga (Leila Sykes). The downsides, she lives isolated on a small island, suffers deep-rooted psychological problems, and insists her helper wears a chained waistcoat harness so he doesn’t go where he shouldn’t. He’s being paid handsomely, though, and despite his reticence, tries to make a go of it. He’s soon troubled by a series of strange events and the eerie atmosphere of the grim-looking house. Isaac walks around the decaying place like the ghost of a man he is without his full memory. When he finds something in the cellar, this get even worse.

Damian Mc Carthy’s debut feature is a tense, claustrophobic thriller that gradually makes its mark on the viewer. Stunningly shot by Kieran Fitzgerald, every part of the run-down house seems to hold a sinister presence, not least a toy clockwork rabbit banging a drum, which is the stuff of nightmares. The imposing soundscape adds to the terrifying quality, building up more dread than any jump scare could. Mc Carthy makes some brave choices - like plunging the screen into darkness save for a flashlight - and certainly knows how to pitch a scare. The cast are all superb - particularly French and Sykes - and as the story unfolds, and Isaac’s memory begins to return, the terror is ramped up to unbearable levels.

A stunningly effective debut and proof that cinema can still be genuinely scary.