Without Name, 2016
Directed by Lorcan Finnegan
Starring Alan McKenna, Niamh Algar, James Browne, Olga Wehrly
A land surveyor discovers a dark secret deep within a dense forest, in this eco-horror thriller from first-time Irish filmmaker Lorcan Finnegan.
For his debut feature film, director Lorcan Finnegan presents an intriguing psychological horror that relies on the study of its characters and building the tension than traditional jump scares. Combined with Finnegan’s direction and a small but committed cast, Without Name succeeds as an examination on the many ways people isolate themselves and what that isolation can do to the mind.
One aspect Without Name does very well with is the old adage of ‘show, don’t tell’. A great amount of the film is built off watching the cast’s performances, paying attention to their facial expressions and body language. The first 10 – 15 minutes of the film itself is very silent as it slowly builds tension and makes the viewer understand Eric’s rather empty life through the imagery and scenery. To accomplish this as well, Finnegan employs a lot of stylistic techniques, such as the opening’s long panning shot, to help convey the characters state of mind. It is a very well shot film that compliments the story.
Each member of the cast does well in this regard, particularly the lead Alan McKenna. His character Eric is a man of few words and McKenna is able to strongly express his emotion through both dialogue and body language. Eric’s descent into paranoia is carefully crafted in a believable manner. His arc is also explored in very subtle ways, such as the fact that Eric rarely appears in a frame alongside Niamh Algar or James Browne, further emphasizing Eric’s isolation. It’s a very subtle and clever way to add to the enjoyment of the film.
Rounding out the cast are Algar and Browne, who play Eric’s assistant Olivia and the gypsy Gus respectively. Algar imbues a youthful quality to Olivia with a carefree attitude while hiding her own sense of loneliness, an aspect Algar displays with subtlety. Her personality makes a great counterpoint to Eric’s, allowing McKenna and Algar to have a complex relationship full of attraction and, at times, resentment. Browne’s Gus is more of a wild card; he also has a carefree attitude, but there’s also an air of mystery surrounding him as you never really know what he’s fully about. Browne has fun with the role while simultaneously bringing some seriousness to it.
The film’s general atmosphere is quite eerie with much of the story taking place outdoors at night. The psychological horror aspects are played to great affect as the emphasis lies in creating an unsettling vibe rather than going straight to scares, focusing on the characters emotions and putting viewers in their shoes as well. Finnegan’s focus on the characters, psychological nuances and cinematography make Without Name a worthy debut for him powered by a strong cast.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★