Hooptober 8.0 – Caveat (2020)

Being Film #10 for Hooptober 2021

Horror proves time and again to be a great testing ground for talent. The debut from writer/director/editor Damien Mc Carthy, Caveat is a tense and frightening low-budget film that may feel a little like a short film concept stretched to feature length, but there is more than enough meat on its bones to provide some serious scares…starting with that damn rabbit.

THE QUICK SUMMARY: Isaac is just recovered from some kind of accident and has a spot of amnesia. His buddy Moe has just the thing for him to earn some cash: would he watch over his niece for a few days until he can find someone else? Isaac agrees, only to find there are a few small caveats (ha!) to the assignment: Did Moe forget to mention the house is on a remote island? And that Olga, suffering from some kind of schizophrenia, is terrified of being attacked? And so, uh…Isaac is going to need to wear this chained harness to prevent him from entering certain rooms? That’s a lot of caveats, but Isaac is an idiot so he agrees. Shockingly, things do not go as planned.

Caveat can’t help but feel like a thin premise, but Mc Carthy wrangles quite a bit of tension in the story. There are supernatural elements to what is happening in the house, but much of the plot rest on much firmer and recognizable elements (it may not shock you to discover Moe isn’t on the level here). The truth of what is happening at the house and how each player – Isaac, Moe, and Olga – factor into it would make for enough drama, but put something like the creepy drumming rabbit in and everything takes on a darker, creppier aspect.

The rabbit’s dirty, worn visage mirrors the overall feel of Caveat. The narrow hallways, Isaac’s chained conferment all lend itself to creating a claustrophobic atmosphere that kept me constantly adjusting the volume to make sure I didn’t jump or freak out watching the film.

It didn’t help. I did. And that’s as good a recommendation as I can give for Caveat. Really impressive debut, and a great calling card for giving Mc Carthy a shot at something more ambitious in the future.

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