Local writer, producer and director George Clarke, a good friend of FTN, has two of his movies, Onus and Splasharea, playing in Belfast tomorrow. We review both here and tell you why, if you’re free tomorrow and near Belfast, you should be going to see them… (second review follows at bottom of page)
Directed: George Clarke
Starring: Robert Render, Anthony Boyle & Kenny Thompson
Running time: 44mins
When I first watched Onus I had no idea what to expect but ended up pleasantly surprised (though I caught the plot twist early on). That’s not George’s fault, it’s the writer in me. I love trying to figure stuff out before the end.
Starring award winner Robert Render and newcomer Anthony Boyle, it was shot on location in Norway for £100. But you don’t notice at all. This is a pretty sleek production for such a small budget and really does show what can be done with little money and a bit of imagination.
It begins with a young man, Ciaran, waking up beside a lake. He is chained to a second man and both have a gun taped to their hands with one bullet each. Taped to a tree is a note saying that by the end of the day only one will live. They know each other as the man is Mister Andrews who used to teach Ciaran science and counselled him for being bullied. Neither have any memory of how they got there. All they know is someone is watching their every move and if they try to break the chains or escape they will be executed. Who is behind it all? Why do they want one of the duo to die? And what exactly is the Onus?
Both actors give great performances as they are abhorred by the idea of killing someone in cold blood just to save themselves. Render is electric as Andrews who seems more than happy to sacrifice himself to save the younger man. Boyle matches the performance as the scared and confused Ciaran who is placed in an impossible position.
There are some great themes about bullying, discovering yourself and exactly how far you will go in a life or death situation. At the climax you discover the clues have been there all along as they face the power behind their dilemma.
As I said I had no idea what to expect from this but it’s a simple idea beautifully executed.
Splash Area (18)
Directed by: George Clarke
Starring: Anthony Boyle, Leanne Marks & Ruby Campbell
It’s Halloween and a man is enjoying some, em adult movies, when he gets interrupted by some trick or treaters. He tells them off and returns to his house. He is angry at another knock at the door but this time someone grabs him, drags him outside and stabs him to death complete with maniacal laugh.
So from the get go you know this is going to be dark and firmly in the horror genre. All Hallow’s Eve is deserted for a very good reason; an uncle is telling his nieces and nephews a bedtime story that they shouldn’t hear. It’s a story wherein a group of young people encounter strange figures on the deserted streets of All Hallow’s Eve. They soon discover these streets are empty for a very good reason. There are murderers on the loose. And they are firmly on the mental side.
The gore is really graphic at times but this fits in with the overall madness of the killers. There are echoes of Day of the Dead, Halloween and even Stephen King’s It and the classic killer clowns work to great effect. The direction is wonderfully eerie as long shadows fall across the front of houses and the dimly lit streets play perfectly into the creepy atmosphere. Of course you can’t have a ream of mad men without an asylum in the mix and it becomes a game of cat and mouse as the group find themselves on the run in the corridors.
The direction is very good, especially in trying to evoke an insane atmosphere. The fight between the clown and the mummy (yes, mummy) is enhanced by the sharp direction. The incidental music is also evocative of something not quite right, like a rabid clown. But as always with George things are never quite as they seem and although you think it’s your standard ‘teenagers in peril’ movie, you get to the final twist and nothing is quite what you thought.
Is it a horror bedtime story or not? I’m afraid you’ll have to watch to find out. Highly recommended.