The Movie Waffler New Release Review - WITHOUT NAME | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - WITHOUT NAME

without name movie review
A land surveyor has a series of uncanny experiences while mapping an ancient Irish forest.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Lorcan Finnegan

Starring: Alan McKenna, Niamh Algar, James Browne

without name poster

The 1970s was a golden age for horror on UK TV. BBC gave us an annual Ghost Story at Christmas, which gave the likes of Jonathan Miller the chance to adapt the classic tales of author MR James, and a slew of one off dramas, most notably John Griffith Bowen's great 'Play For Today' Robin Redbreast. Over at rivals ITV, anthology shows like Beasts, from Quatermass writer Nigel Kneale, and Thriller, from Avengers creator Brian Clemens, brought horror into distastefully decorated living rooms on a weekly basis. Even children's programming offered such delights as the kiddy folk-horror series Children of the Stones.

without name

A common theme across all these shows was that of an urban sophisticate coming a cropper in a rural location, their modern education and skepticism put to the test by inexplicable and usually malevolent forces emanating seemingly from the land itself. Director Lorcan Finnegan's debut feature Without Name treads a similar path to the aforementioned assembly of folky chillers, focussing for the most part on characters and suggested menace to make the most of its limited budget.

The obligatory cynical urbanite here is Eric (Alan McKenna), an English land surveyor who embarks on a job mapping an ancient forest in the windy wilds of rural Ireland. His employer, with whom he engages in a series of Skype conversations, seems to be holding back some crucial information regarding the project, which may not fall entirely within the boundaries of the law.

without name

Working in the depths of the forest, Eric begins to get the feeling he's not alone, spotting a shadowy figure in the distance and finding his equipment disrupted. A few days into his work he's joined by his intern, college student Olivia (Niamh Algar), with whom he's engaged in an extra-marital affair. When a third party, local tree-hugging stoner Gus (James Browne), intervenes in their relationship, it adds to the paranoia already felt by Eric, and when magic mushrooms are introduced into the mix, he begins to question everything he's ever held true.

Without Name is strongest for its first hour when it plays like a well written and acted one-off piece of classic TV. Finnegan and screenwriter Garret Shanley take their time dishing out tidbits of plot, slowly reeling us in like patient anglers, amping up the intrigue regarding just what it is in these woods that seems determined to menace Alan. The central acting trio deserve much credit too for adding a verisimilitude with their grounded performances.

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A shame then that it all falls apart in the home stretch when Without Name seems to simply run out of ideas and devolves into a generic 'bad trip' movie, all psychedelic editing, abrasive sound effects and actors screaming naked into the wind. Finnegan leaves us wondering if his debut might have played more successfully as a short, or as an installment of the type of anthology show that sadly no longer prospers on TV.

Without Name is in Irish cinemas May 5th. A UK release has yet to be announced.