Sunday, 11 January 2015

For Those In Peril (2013)

"When a boat goes down, the families all respect the ones that's lost more than the ones that comes ashore. Always the way"

For Those In Peril tells the story of Aaron played by George MacKay (a world away from his turn in Proclaimers jukebox musical Sunshine on Leith and the film of 2014, Pride) the sole survivor of an unexplained fishing accident in which the lives of several souls were lost at sea, including that of his older more confident brother Michael.

Aaron wanders through the fishing village, drawn to its dark waters looking for answers (he can recall nothing of the accident) and ultimately looking for a brother he still believes is alive out there, recalling the folkloric fairytale his mother (beautifully and believably played by Kate Dickie) would tell him as a child concerning the devil in the deep with its 'dirty belly' full of cursed villagers and fishermen. Stigmatised and taunted by villagers who see him as a Jonah who should have died with the rest of the crew, we slowly begin to see that Aaron was perhaps a young man already marked out as different and had his own demons long before this traumatic event. 

A psychological horror masquerading as an uncompromising exploration into survivor's guilt and the effects of grief, Paul Wright's feature debut is a harrowing and hauntingly bleak production which uses a variety of visual formats (handheld, ever moving camera work, phone footage, floating, dream-like vistas, news reports and anecdotal interviews) that ensure it truly gets under the viewer's skin. As a film it's redolent of that other recent subdued and austere Scottish drama Shell (like that, this also stars Michael Smiley - the former comedian carving a niche for himself as a chilling bullish low budget cinematic presence) and 2005's Frozen, which like this features a character unable to move on following a sibling's death/disappearance, though it's fair to see this is superior to both of them.

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