Caveat is an Irish horror film written, directed and edited by Damian Mc Carthy in his feature directorial debut. It stars Johnny French as Isaac, a drifter who accepts a job to look after a psychologically disturbed woman in a house on a secluded island.
Isaac is hired by his acquaintance and landlord Moe Barrett to look after his niece Olga, who will occasionally go catatonic with little to no warning. Naturally, this puts her at risk as she lives on a remote island. The job requires that Isaac be chained in a harness that restricts him to certain portions of the house. He learns from Moe that Olga’s mother went missing after locking her husband in the basement. Olga’s father went insane due to extreme claustrophobia and killed himself. At the house, Isaac finds that, when lucid, Olga roams around with a crossbow and an eerie toy rabbit with human-like glass eyes. I know what you’re thinking, that sounds like a lot right? I’ll get into that in a bit…..
Additionally, mentioning much more would require me to go heavily into spoiler territory. Let’s just say, things are not quite as they seem.
Caveat is a frustrating film, to say the least. Firstly, I made mention about the sheer amount of red flags that are presented by Moe to Isaac. I have to say, I don’t think I have ever seen so many reasons for a character to not continue on. Did I mention that the house is surround by water and that Isaac makes it known that he cannot swim? It’s quite frankly ludicrous to be honest, it just gets worse and worse the more Moe speaks. At least Isaac does somewhat question things but he goes through with it anyway so it’s irrelevant really.
If that was the only problem with Caveat I’d be a happy man but I am afraid to say it commits the biggest sin possible, it’s boring. Make no mistake, this is a really slow burn. At the same time, it does manage to generate an atmosphere but it’s very drab, very depressing. This movie has to be 101 on the worst decisions that a horror movie protagonist can make. I mean, Isaac just makes bad choice after bad choice. I got the impression on more than one occasion that Isaac simply didn’t care if he survived or lived. Then, in other moments he’d act as if he really wanted to escape and survive. He’s the type of character you want to grab and give a good slap so he’ll stop doing dumb things.
The story is a bit of a confusing mess to be honest. At certain points, I imagined it was all a metaphor for a guilt that Isaac was harbouring. To agree to be chained up on that island, it sounded to me like he was intentionally punishing himself. To a degree, there is an element of that I suppose. On the whole, it’s convoluted.
Now, I know I have bashed this film quite a lot but there are some positive aspects. Firstly. It does have a few creepy moments. There’s a dead body at one stage and it’s used really well to generate fear. There’s a weird rabbit toy which is cool, even if it isn’t fully explained what it even is. The whole thing with Olga going catatonic is a really underutilized device in my opinion. The cinematography is nice and the acting is high quality throughout. Basically, I can’t fault the technical aspects of Caveat but it’s just almost everything else. There’s intrigue for sure but it all moves at a snail’s pace and struggled to hold my attention.
The Final Score - 4/10