DIR: Lorcan Finnegan • WRI: Garret Shanley • PRO: Brunella Cocchiglia • DOP: Piers McGrail • ED: Tony Cranstoun • DES: Jeannie O’Brien • MUS: Gavin O’Brien, Neil O’Connor • CAST: Alan McKenna, Niamh Algar, James Browne
Without Name is the hallucinogenic feature debut of Irish director Lorcan Finnegan. Finnegan comes from a seasoned background in commercial work and shorts, including the acclaimed short film Foxes. Without Name is an Irish psychological horror with strong ecological undercurrents running throughout.
Eric is a surveyor, who strives for order and structure and is highly disciplined and meticulous in certain domains of his life, such as his work. But his personal life is a far more chaotic affair, his marriage is strained; he’s got a lover Olivia (Niamh Algar). As Eric pushes the boundaries of his personal life further, his perceived sense of order is breaking at the seams and into the chaos and uncontrollability of nature, a theme which is at the heart of the film. In this regard, the film is somewhat reminiscent of Ben Wheatley’s historical mind fuck A Field in England, or Lars von Triers’ Antichrist.
We follow Eric into the forest as he descends from order going on an acidic voyage into the unconscious realm that lurks beneath the surface of waking reality burrowing through the poisonous shrubbery and toxic foliage, down in the dirt. He hovers through the astral plains of his own psyche, and into an abyss of paranoia, a twilight zone of self-loathing and doubt.
Finnegan is clearly a filmmaker of tremendous capacity and vision, and even when it doesn’t entirely work, he doesn’t fail in teasing the promise of his visionary talent. He creates a potent voyeuristic atmosphere which seems to have a stranglehold on the viewer, luring them in, overdosing them with tension. Piers McGrail’s cinematography is a key binding ingredient in the mix. McGrail is on a steady path to mastery, his work gets more refined with each picture, it’s no surprise he’s one of the country’s most sought after cinematographers. McGrail is Finnegan’s brother in arms in helping to serve up the hellish palette of a world that visibly shifts from poisonous to toxic in a heartbeat.
Alan McKenna offers a haunting nerve-wrenching turn as Eric, which makes his trip into the forest all the more traumatic. Niamh Algar shapes Olivia with beautiful subtlety, crafting a performance ripe with portent. The cast is further complimented by Olga Wherly as Eric’s wife and Brandon Maher as his teenage son, who both provide intricately grounded performances.
Without Name was written by Garrett Shanley, and the script is loaded with a treasure trove of heady ideas and images, but for me, one of the biggest drawbacks is that these aren’t always motivated through character and lack the emotional richness which perhaps could have elevated their significance. Without Name, seems to operate by means of tribal mechanics, which at times defy logical explanation but which ultimately seem to leave you pulsating with a never-ending fear.
15A (See IFCO for details)
Without Name is released 5th May 2017