For Those in Peril – 17/10/2013 @ The Watershed, Bristol
First time feature Director Paul Wright has certainly taken on a challenging concept here, which he wrote himself. The setting is an unspecified remote fishing community in rural Scotland. It is a place where everyone knows each other and where the sea is seen as a mysterious and dangerous entity which has to be respected. It is shot sometimes in a documentary style where voices of the community speak of the tragedy which happened recently where five men died on a fishing boat and only one survived, one of the victims younger brother, Aaron. The views expressed are mixed. Either Aaron is seen as a reminder of the accident or he is blamed entirely for it, even though he has no memory of what has happened. The film goes on to tell the story from Aaron’s (George Mackay) point of view as he struggles to accept his brothers death. According to local folklore, whenever people die in the ocean, the devil in the ocean swallows them up, but if the devil is hunted down and it’s belly is cut open, the victims will be freed.
This myth is paramount to the central theme of the story, the theme being how people attempt to explain the unexplainable (the sea) with stories of Good vs Evil. This is something that people can take comfort from, to soften the blow from whatever cruel event life throws at you. It can also be a dangerous thing which can cause division and resentment or, in this case, leading young Aaron who is suffering badly from grief and loss to take it upon himself to rescue his brother from the beast, literally. He tries to enlist the help of her dead brothers girlfriend in his quest, but his increasingly strange behaviour scares her off. Cathy, his supportive Mother (Kate Dickie) tries everything she can to help Aaron to attain some sort of stability, but it seems that every well intentioned effort is making him worse. It seems she inadvertently made him the way he is by telling him the aforementioned sea story ever since he was a kid. I think this kind of myth paradigm might be a comment on how most of the world religions think. They can serve as a guide for living and a comfort to explain distant and abstract concepts of how the universe works and life after death, but at the same time cause division, resentment and war.
The film I feel is something I admire rather than something I enjoyed. I liked the individual elements of the film especially the performances by the two leads George Mackay and Kate Dickie. I thought the climax was harrowing and a very effective way to end the film. However, I did think it was a generally difficult film to sit through as the tone was so despondent. It is not something I would want to watch again, but something that will leave some kind of streak in my consciousness.