Home > Features > Caveat - A strong horror debut by Damian McCarthy

Caveat - A strong horror debut by Damian McCarthy

Monday 23 November 2020, by Abla Kandalaft

A lone drifter suffering from partial memory loss accepts a job to look after a psychologically troubled woman in an abandoned house on an isolated island.

I took a punt on this offering whilst browsing this year’s Leeds International Film Festival output. As usual, the programming was first-class but I usually make it my priority to hone in on entries that come under "horror". It’s no mean feat for a film to surprise and scare me given how blasé I’ve become but it’s an even greater accomplishment after half an hour of false starts trying to find the right browser to play the film on and 20 minutes of buffering, which had me watch the first scene about 5 times. (Check the digital requirements in advance.)

And so barely glancing at the synopsis I watched this first feature by Damian McCarthy, in which every movement of the camera is carefully measured to provide the strongest sense of impending doom, imbuing the film with a strange creepiness that carries it to the end. McCarthy clearly understands horror, and his attention to detail and choice of soundtrack are masterful. The performances are also strong, especially Jonathan French’s central turn as the bewildered Isaac whose fear, confusion and determination are palpably bubbling under the surface.

It’s definitely worth keeping an eye on McCarthy’s work, which he certainly won’t be short of following the accolades the film received on the festival circuit.

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