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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

WITHOUT NAME -- Movie Review by Porfle

Sometimes there's a stalker in the forest; sometimes the stalker IS the forest.  Or at least there's some evil force (force...forest) that permeates it, drawing in unwary victims like flies to a spider web.

Or...maybe it's all in Eric's mind, and the sylvan solitude and verdant vastness of this mysterious place WITHOUT NAME (2016) simply act as a catalyst for coaxing the crazy out of his already fevered psyche.  

Eric (Alan McKenna, MALICE IN WONDERLAND, AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN PARIS) is already in a bad place mentally, with an alienated wife and resentful son who make home life a misery for him.  As a surveyor for a shady Irish land developer, he's glad to escape the concrete prison of the city and venture into a wild land where he's surrounded by vast panoramic vistas of overwhelming primitive beauty.

At first, that is.  But before long, the forest begins to feel oppressive and strange in daylight, and dark--really dark--at night.  It seems to close in on the creepy little stuck-in-time cottage he's huddled into, giving him, and us, an almost palpable sense of isolation mixed with a growing dread of the unknown.

The late arrival of his helper and mistress Olivia (Niamh Algar) brings a bit of spiritual warmth to Eric that's reflected in the music (it's the film's first semi-happy musical theme) but it doesn't last long as their first foray into the woods almost instantly takes an eerie turn for both of them.  Not only is their equipment vandalized, but we get the feeling they're being watched.  And that's not even the half of it.

A third character, the gregarious Gus (James Browne, TREE KEEPER), is a roving trailer-dweller spending some time in the woods himself.  Gus knew the man, Devoy, who occupied the cottage until he went mad (Devoy's cryptic, handwritten journal, "Knowledge of Trees", which Eric becomes obsessed with, seems ample evidence of this) and his stories stoke the unease already coursing through Eric's veins.

Worse, he introduces Eric and Olivia to some of the potent magic mushrooms that grow wild in the forest, which begins a jarring dislocation from reality for Eric that will lead to some of the film's most disorienting and disquieting passages. 

Needless to say, Eric's mental state, already not all that stable, takes a turn for the psychedelic as he goes off the deep end faster than Richard Boone's character in I BURY THE LIVING. 

Director Lorcan Finnegan, in a noteworthy feature debut, has the kind of artistic eye that gives his film visual interest even when nothing exciting is going on, eschewing sensation for a deep-seated unease in which we spend much time on edge.

He builds the mood ever so slowly, letting us gradually get used to the idea that this forest is a quietly ominous place where anything might happen.  Then, when something finally does happen, we get that queasy feeling as the director slowly twists the nerve and reality becomes as wispy as the fog wafting through the trees.

Thus, there are long stretches in WITHOUT NAME which, while lacking in action, are in the service of building a mood and atmosphere that gradually creep up on us like a draught of cold air.

Not visceral horror but closely akin to the weirdness and twistiness of "The Outer Limits", "One Step Beyond", and "The Twilight Zone", WITHOUT NAME leaves us feeling stranded in a dark place ourselves, albeit one which, thank goodness, we can blink away with the click of a button.  

Now available in North America on major platforms including iTunes, Amazon Instant, Google Play, Sony PSN, X-Box Live, Vudu, Vimeo on Demand, Steam, Roku, Crackle, Hoopla, Seed & Spark and Tubi TV. 

Cable VOD will follow at a later date.

Film clip -- "A late night walk through the woods:"

The film’s official trailer:

Official Facebook Page

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