Directed by Sean Spencer.
Starring David Gyasi, Pippa Nixon and Jason Wong.
Panic tells the story of an agoraphobic journalist, Andrew Deeley, who witnesses a horrific crime from the safety of his home. Deeley must leave his flat and overcome his agoraphobia in order to solve the crime and save his neighbour Kem.
A London based music journalist Andrew Deeley, played by David Gyasi (Interstellar), is agoraphobic, with most of his relationships played out through a set of binoculars and a telephone. During a session with his binoculars, Deeley witnesses his neighbour Kem violently kidnapped from her home. Deeley becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to her (rightfully so), but must overcome his fear of the great outdoors to become her saviour. On his way, he sees horrible crimes and becomes entwined in the underworld of London and people-trafficking. Not exactly activities that someone with extreme fear of the World might want to get involved with.
Panic is beautifully shot; long lingering pauses on Gyasi let us see and feel every thought process that he has. His gentle portrayal of Deeley is wonderful. It’s hard not to root for him as he navigates his way through his intense fear of the outside world. At the same time, you want to scream at him with frustration – either reaction is a win. Stunning shots of London highrises, orange sunrises and sunsets and cold, dark nights all frame Gyasi’s vulnerable anxiety. It doesn’t seem possible that the warm hues of a sunrise could possibly aid the portrayal of someone’s fear but it does and it is exquisite.
The theme of extreme isolation and anxiety are explored with real sensitivity. Mental health issues are rarely pivotal to the storyline of a film. Sean Spencer, the director, handles this with care and rightfully so. Spencer directs Gyasi in such a way that the character of Deeley never becomes an unrealistic hero. His dread and apprehension are apparent at all times as well as his way of dealing with stress (music is key). Panic wouldn’t be as good as it is, if Spencer wasn’t able to accomplish this.
Considering the fact that this is Sean Spencer’s directorial debut, Panic is a triumph. You will be captivated. That coupled with Gyasi’s stunning performance means that Panic is a must see. A thrilling and unexpectedly dark tale of a man’s fight with his own demons, as well as the demons of his neighbour makes for a tough ride, but a worthy one nonetheless.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★★★★ / Movie: ★★★★
Panic will open in the UK on November 18th.