In an era of massive blockbusters, there are many films that are still able to convey effective narratives despite their limitations. While lack of funds can hinder certain projects, others are able to use all their resources to deliver truly distinctive experiences. Written, edited and directed by Damian Mc Carthy, Caveat delivers a chilling vision of suspenseful horror. Thriving in its simplicity, this is a release that proves that less is often far better than more.
Desperate for money, a man with partial memory loss agrees to look after a psychologically troubled girl within an isolated mansion. The picture is led by Jonathan French and includes Leila Sykes, Ben Caplan and Conor Dwane.
At its core, Caveat has a very basic premise. In fact, its story is perhaps the weakest part of the feature. The movie is best when it is ambiguous, faltering slightly once it tries to dive more into reality. Thankfully, this issue is minor as there are a few important plot details that allow the film to exist in an almost dreamlike world. Suspension of disbelief becomes easy once you realise that this is a movie that is strongest in its sequences, not its story.
Inducing pure anxiety and dread, Damian Mc Carthy has constructed scenes that will tingle the spine of even the most hardcore horror fan. He does so not with gore or jumpscares but rather by successfully building tension through the use of techniques that may appear simple but work incredibly well all the same. Utilising mankind’s instinctual fear of the unknown, the film does a great job at making us scared of every corner and closed door. It’s a very raw approach but it is one that stands out within the landscape of modern horror.
In the beginning moments, the budgetary constraints of the feature are quite clear. This is quickly forgotten as we soon immerse ourselves within the creepy house that the story takes place. There may have been a lack of funds, but everyone involved from the director to the cast is clearly very talented. Jonathan French offers a solid performance as the bewildered Isaac, allowing us to feel all his doubts and fears. As Olga, Leila Sykes is rather good too, inhabiting an individual whose intentions are often a mystery. On the production side, a notable mention must be made for the cinematographer, Kieran Fitzgerald. The photography utilises every frame superbly and makes sure that any limitations are mostly hidden.
Caveat takes horror back to basics with a film that will terrify viewers with its suspenseful sequences. Highly engaging for the majority of the 90-minute runtime, this is a must-watch for viewers looking for a night of terror. No matter what he does next, Damian Mc Carthy is a director that we will be keenly paying attention to going forward.