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Saturday, June 5, 2021

Review: Caveat

Director: Damian Mc Carthy

Screenplay: Damian Mc Carthy

Year: 2021

“Caveat” is an exclusive Shudder film where we follow Isaac, a man with memory loss, who is offered a job taking care of Olga, a psychologically unstable woman in a house on a desolate island. To make matters worse, the man must remain in a chain-clad dress that limits his access to parts of the house. A game of cat and mouse takes place once Isaac is left alone in the house with Olga and begins to regain his memory.

When Isaac arrives on the island together with Barret, the man who offers him the job, it is evident that there is some secret in this house, an observation that is augmented by Barret's suspicious behavior and his conditions to carry out the work. As usually happens in horror movies, although Isaac acknowledges that there is something else behind all this, he decides to submit to shackling and restraining his movements and taking the job. It doesn't take long for the inevitable to start happening.

In his directorial and screenwriting debut, Damian Mc Carthy opts for a horror style where more than chilling images, the main vector is discomfort. The way the camera is used in the house is intended to accentuate the sense of claustrophobia and that something is going on around the protagonist but cannot be seen. It effectively manages to convey that feeling to the viewer and generate anxiety, which simultaneously keeps him glued to the seat while the plot is resolved.

Aside from the atmosphere, performances are one of its best assets. Johnathan French and Leila Sykes offer credible characters in their portrayals of Isaac and Olga, respectively, and highlight the interesting qualities of their characters, especially in the case of Olga, who is a more complex character. Unfortunately, while good work on the atmosphere and acting helps make the film interesting, the plot development is a problem that intrudes on your enjoyment.

On the one hand, the focus on a haunting atmosphere makes plot development somewhat slow and interesting, and plot-moving things happen with too much space in between. On the other hand, the development seems to be in conflict with whether it wants to be supernatural horror or psychological thriller, which leaves many questions unanswered and with a desire to explore the supernatural side more fully, which has better potential but is underutilized. Then the film ends with an open ending, which, rather than leading the viewer to reach their own conclusions, seems like an easy way to solve the problem of not knowing how to end the story.

"Caveat" effectively creates a haunting atmosphere and maintains it throughout its duration, using tense and unexpected moments and images and not betting on easy jump scares. The actors do a great job in their performances, and together with the atmosphere, keep us interested in the development of the plot. However, the slow development and the jumps between supernatural horror and psychological thriller opens some holes in its slow plot and leaves many questions unanswered and a desire to have delved deeper into the supernatural aspect.

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