There’s a tendency today, especially within mainstream genre cinema, to rely on jump scares and manufacturing tension using abrasive soundscapes and invasive camera techniques. This can often leave a bad aftertaste and is no replacement for conjuring up a genuine atmosphere of dread. Of wrongness. Of anticipation. Look deep into the shadows and you’ll find the dark corners of horror cinema where the weird and the eerie quietly lurk. There you’ll find Caveat.
Isaac (Jonathan French) is one of life’s loners, drifting from place to place, taking work where he can get it. This dissonance is not helped by the amnesia he is suffering from. When his landlord Barret (Ben Caplan) offers him money to look after his niece Olga (Leila Sykes) for a few days, it seems like an easy job. That is until he discovers that she lives alone on an isolated island, suffers from mental problems and he has to wear a harness to restrict his movements.
Whilst the premise of Caveat might seem a little on the strange side, all is explained as Isaac tries to get to grips with the situation. There’s a pall of wrongness and oppressive miasma which hangs over the stark and dilapidated house. Indeed, the atmosphere in Damian Mc Carthy’s film is only matched by the impressive acting performances from the leads. This simplicity, inventiveness and strangeness is what makes Caveat such a haunting and compelling dark fable.
Caveat is available on Shudder from 3 June.