DVD Review: Savage


DIR/WRI: Brendan Muldowney • PRO: Conor Barry, Alan Maher • DOP: Tom Comerford, Michael O’Donovan • ED: Mairead McIvor • DES: Padraig O’Neill • CAST: Darren Healy, Nora-Jane Noone

In this impressive debut feature from filmmaker Brendan Muldowney, Darren Healy plays Paul Graynor, a nervy, loner photographer who becomes the victim of a terrible assault while walking home to his flat in central Dublin one night. From thereon in we witness a vulnerable victim transformed into a desperate man on an unfocused mission of revenge. His distorted, unbridled rage is fuelled by a mix of testosterone stimulants and an uncoiling desperation that bursts forth from the film’s guts. Michelle, played by Nora-Jane Noone, becomes Paul’s only tenuous link to the world of normality.

Savage is skilfully photographed and shot in bleeding hues of blue. The night scenes are pregnant with peril and imbue the urban landscape with a growing sense of claustrophobic foreboding that carves its way through the film and into Paul’s state of mind.

The visuals are matched throughout by a cacophonous soundscape that infects the film with a growing sense of violent anxiety. The use of threatening low tones and visceral sound-effects puncture Stephen McKeon’s music score, attacking the viewer’s senses and inflicting a palpable sense of unsettling menace that builds up to the knock-out punch of the film’s climax.

With Savage, Brendan Muldowney has fashioned a story that skilfully draws upon its obvious influences and in Healy boasts a compelling central performance of intense, swelling dislocation. Muldowney is a serious filmmaker and deserves all the plaudits Savage is bound to bring him.

Special Features include an audio commentary by director Brendan Muldowney; Q&A with Brendan Muldowney; and cast auditions.

Steven Galvin

Savage is released on DVD on 14th March 2011

  • Format: Colour, PAL
  • Region: Region 2
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: High Fliers
  • DVD Release Date: 14 Mar 2011
  • Run Time: 84 minutes




'Savage' Available for Rental on DVD

Brendan Muldowney’s debut feature, Savage, is now available for rental on DVD in Ireland and the UK via High Fliers Films. It will also be available to purchase on DVD from 14th March.

Savage, starring Darren Healy (Eamon, Once) and Nora-Jane Noone (The Descent, The Magdalene Sisters), is an exploration of violence and masculinity – a story of obsession and revenge, as a man tries to come to terms with a brutal, random attack and its consequences.

Savage was produced by Conor Barry for SP Films and funded by the Irish Film Board.

 Visit the film’s official sites on facebook and www.savage-the-movie.com


Short Horror Films at Exchange Arts Centre Sat Nov 20th


A free literary reading and screening of short horror films will take place this Saturday, 20th November at 9pm at the Exchange Arts Centre, Exchange Street Upper in Temple Bar.

The evening will begin with a reading at 9pm of the Dublin-born 19th-century author Sheridan Le Fanu’s celebrated novella ‘Carmilla’, the fictional story that invented the female vampire as a literary character (later to become so popular with filmmakers and cinema audiences). Set in central Europe, this story was to greatly influence another Dublin-born author, Bram Stoker, in the writing of his novel ‘Dracula’ and also served as the basis for several 20th-century films, including Hammer’s The Vampire Lovers (1970), Roger Vadim’s Blood and Roses (1960), Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Vampyr (1932) and Harry Kümel’s Daughters of Darkness (1970).

The ‘Gothic literature’ reading will be followed (from approx 10pm or so, until 11pm closing) by the screening of a programme of horror/chiller short films, as another part of the same ongoing inaugural festival of horrors (soon to draw to a close for this year).

This programme will consist entirely of shorts chosen to suit the horror/chiller theme of this new festival and will include several short films directed by Brendan Muldowney and produced by Conor Barry for SP Films including ‘The Ten Steps’, ‘Innocence’, ‘The Honourable Scaffolder’, ‘Beauty Queen’ and ‘Final Journey‘. Other filmmakers’ shorts to be screened at this event will include the recent documentary ‘Fear’ (dir Conor Horgan – 2009; running time 25 mins approx), Irish narrative shorts ‘Vale Road’ (dir Glenda Cimino), ‘Th3 Room’ (dir Sean Breathnach), ‘Death Is Red’ (dir Gerry Wade), ‘The Hollow Girl’ (Dave McCabe) and ‘Circus Porcalina’ (dir Aaron O’Reilly) and the brand new music video ‘Taking Lives’ by Irish band Zombie Cops (dir Eoin Heaney).

Glenda Cimino’s lengthy first short ‘Vale Road’ won third prize in the ‘Clontarf Bram Stoker Horror Film Competition’ that was held at the end of October at Clontarf Castle Hotel. Its large cast included Conor Drum, Tommy O’Neill, Phyllis Carty, Seamus Whelan, Ian Walsh, Kathy Kavanagh, Jason Nelson, Siobhan Hearty and the late Rhiannon Lee Doyle (who sadly passed away shortly after filming ended in 2007).


SAVAGE – Special Mention at Leeds International Film Festival

Brendan Muldowney’s debut feature ‘Savage’ picked up a Special Mention in the Méliès Competition at the recent Leeds International Film Festival, see here.

The jury commented that SAVAGE was “a brutal, powerful and brave piece of filmmaking with an impressive central performance at the heart of it”.

In December ‘Savage’ will be screening at the upcoming Capital Irish Film Festival (CIFF) in Washington DC, for more details click here.

‘Savage’, starring Darren Healy (’Eamon’, ‘Once’) and Nora-Jane Noone (’The Descent’, ‘The Magdalene Sisters’), is an exploration of violence and masculinity – a story of obsession and revenge, as a man tries to come to terms with a brutal, random attack and its consequences. It was produced by Conor Barry for SP Films and funded by the Irish Film Board.




'Savage' theatrical release

Savage, the award-winning film directed by Brendan Muldowney, is currently being screened at 5 cinemas nationwide.

To check times and book tickets, visit:

Eye Galway – www.eyecinema.ie

Gate Cork – www.onlinecinematickets.com

Gaiety Arklow – www. gaietyarklow.onlinecinematickets.com

Gaiety Sligo – www.onlinecinematickets.com

Omniplex Limerick – www.omniplex.ie

Paul Graynor is an alienated press photographer who falls victim to a serious crime. Finding himself the subject, rather than the provider of an inner city tabloid story, Paul tries to come to terms with his attack. However his injuries, both psychological and physical, prove impossible to heal. Savage follows Paul’s metamorphosis, from victim to avenger in this chilling thriller.

Savage stars Darren Healy & Nora Jane Noone and was produced by Conor Barry for SP Films.


Issue 134 – Served Cold


As his debut feature Savage – an arresting, violent and vengeful slice of Dublin life – hits Irish cinema screens, director Brendan Muldowney revisits some of his key inspirations with Jamie Hannigan…

BRENDAN: It was 1980, so the start of these video-nasties. I don’t think The Exterminator was a video-nasty, but video-nasties were about.

JAMIE: You would have been what, nine, ten?

Uh, no… Hang on a second… Eleven, I was eleven, but by the time it got to video it was ’82. So I was twelve or thirteen. All I know is that everyone was talking about it in school… Typical kid shit, the most shocking things are what everyone’s talking about: ‘They put someone in a mincer!’ I was dying to see this thing because of this infamy. I can’t remember it exactly, but this guy’s friend is either crippled or beaten up or killed by these thugs, and if I watched it now, it would probably be cheap and shit, but my memory of it was kickass! It was Robert Ginty going around with a flamethrower, trying to find out where people are and when they don’t speak – or even when they do – they’re all trussed up on a chain, and he pushes the button and they go down into the meat mincer… And then they have the money shot of the minced meat coming out! (laughs) Anyway, as a kid, I thought this was pretty cool.

So this was your first exposure to the revenge movie?

The Exterminator was the first one I saw, so I was exposed to the lower end of these things, and, as a kid, your morals are more…


Yeah, and you’re not trying to intellectualise it as much. And then Death Wish… The weird thing about Death Wish is that I saw them in the reverse order. I saw Death Wish 3 and then I saw Death Wish II and then I saw the first Death Wish! What I was thinking about the third one was, it was perfect for me when I was young, because it was a comedy, it was funny, there were old ladies getting involved, setting traps for the thugs…

Like Home Alone?

Yeah! It was an action movie and a bit of fun. I didn’t think of it further than that: Bad guys get done by normal people. That’s the key to it, it’s not the cops, it’s normal people. Then – let me see – I saw Death Wish II, which I found really disturbing, because there’s a horrible rape scene with Charles Bronson’s daughter, and to add insult to injury, she tries to escape and falls through a window and gets impaled on a fence… It’s just horrible. I think that was when I first started to question what was going on with these films. And Michael Winner is to thank for that… I felt like he was wallowing in the rape, that he was enjoying that as much as he was going to enjoy showing the revenge. It was more about spectacle and he wasn’t really getting under the skin of revenge and vigilantism and the normal, everyday person…

What was the first film you remember doing that?

Oh, Taxi Driver. But it’s not even necessarily a revenge film. A good friend of mine said to me: Travis Bickle is just this ticking bomb that’s presented to the audience with the fuse lit. There’s no sort of character arc… He was always crazy, and he just gets progressively worse until he explodes… And yet, because Robert De Niro is playing it so low-key, that stuff really had an impact for me, because it reminded me that the actor doesn’t have to be everywhere, ranting and exploding. We can tell that through the world around him, do you know what I mean? The way it focuses on small moments, the way he drops an Alka-Seltzer in a glass and it just zooms down into it and then into his eyes… What I really found impressive about Taxi Driver was the atmosphere of everything around Travis, so you could feel it being claustrophobic. And of course, in the latter half, where he starts looking in the mirror and starts tooling up with all sorts of weapons. When you imagine revenge films like Death Wish or The Exterminator, they’re very simplistic: there’s a bad guy who’s done something and they get the bad guy. In Taxi DriverEveryone’s a bad guy, so he has no focus, and yet, there’s more dread in Taxi Driver than in any of those other films.

I think I saw Taxi Driver at the perfect age to have such an impact on me. Maybe seventeen, eighteen. About ten years after it had been made. But I think it’s perfect for when you are trying to get your morals, you’re getting more complex in your thinking. It probably got me at a perfect time. Straw Dogs I would have seen next. It would have been banned for a long time, so it must have been a bootleg VHS or something… Another interesting one, because this was an ordinary man –

Much more so than Travis Bickle…

Oh yeah, this is like an intellectual… What I liked was the Dustin Hoffman character having to step up, and to become a violent man… There’s a big jump now, but the next one I do remember seeing was when I was in college, which was A Short Film About Killing. The story is as simple as a man commits a crime – the murder of the taxi driver at the start – and the state executes him. That’s it. But what Kieslowski does is that he shows both murders as being as brutal as each other. What I took from A Short Film About Killing was the fact that the murder itself – he’s strangling the guy from behind – takes so long to happen. And not only does it take so long to happen – as the guy is dying, he’s kicking out the front windscreen of the car. So it’s got these details. He made it very real. He cuts outside the car for a bit, I think. There’s another car that drives by in the distance, in a wide… I tried to get that into Savage. I wanted to have, for the fight at the end, a woman in a car, driving by, seeing a fight and just driving on. But the fight took up the whole day, so I couldn’t get it. It’s a pity. The camera was going to be inside the car, with someone listening to pop music, someone else’s life and day. Just a quick glance and seeing these guys fighting, and then… just doesn’t want to know, and drives on. But anyway, this messiness in the detail which started with Taxi Driver and I saw it again with this. I liked the morals of A Short Film About Killing. I would have been brought up on the side of The Punishment Fits The Crime, and I remember when I was in my first media course in communications, doing a documentary about Amnesty International and to suddenly think about the rights and wrongs of the death penalty. Going beyond whether innocent people can be killed, going beyond whether the punishment they’re using is inhumane, going beyond that: asking whether it hurts us as a society to kill in our name. There were complexities in everything. A Short Film About Killing perfectly followed on where I was at that stage.

The full article is printed in Film Ireland 134


Irish film ‘Savage' at international festivals

Brendan Muldowney’s debut feature Savage has recently screened at the Moscow International Film Festival and is set to appear at Finland’s Espoo Cine International Film Festival at the end of August as well as the upcoming Lund International Fantastic Film Festival in Sweden this September.

Savage, starring Darren Healy (Eamon, Once) and Nora-Jane Noone (The Descent, The Magdalene Sisters), is an exploration of violence and masculinity – a story of obsession and revenge, as a man tries to come to terms with a brutal attack and its consequences. It was produced by Conor Barry for SP Films and funded by the Irish Film Board.

Savage is set for a theatrical release in selected cinemas nationwide from Friday 17th September, courtesy of High Fliers/Eclipse Pictures. For more information, visit the official website at www.savage-the-movie.com or become a fan of their Facebook page.


Issue 128 – You Won't Be Able To Look Away

Ross Whitaker talks to Brendan Muldowney and Conor Barry about their low-budget feature Savage.


I don’t mind telling you that I was a little worried when Film Ireland asked me to put the spotlight on Savage, the debut feature film by Brendan Muldowney (director) and Conor Barry (producer).

With low-budget Irish films you just never know what you’re going to get and I hadn’t seen the film yet. In fact, nobody had seen it. Ever. So I was concerned that I was going to end up interviewing the makers of Savage without having enjoyed their film…

They sent me over a screener. I watched it. I loved it. I was the first person to watch the final cut of the film and now the makers of Savage have a 100% record. One viewer, one fan.

Savage is an exploration of violence and masculinity – a story of obsession and revenge, as a man tries to come to terms with a brutal, random attack and its consequences.

Darren Healy plays Paul Graynor, a shy, mild-mannered press photographer who is set upon in an alley by two lads on his way home from a night out. In a hugely powerful scene, Muldowney brilliantly captures the intimidating ‘Look at me! Look at me! Watcha lookin’ at?’ patter that will be all too familiar to anyone who has been caught in that frightening position. It’s an uncomfortable, harrowing scene that will have you squirming in your seat and the gentlemen in the audience crossing their legs. But you won’t be able to look away.

The violent assault leaves Graynor a shadow of his former self, at first cowed but later very, very angry. Muldowney is clearly influenced by films like Taxi Driver and Straw Dogs in depicting a man who is pushed to the edge and contemplates taking the 
next step.

The film takes you on a visceral, violent journey that is utterly compelling. It’s not for the faint-hearted but then it’s not aimed at the faint-hearted. Indeed, probably the most pleasing element of this film is its unflinching desire to not let the audience off the hook. It is uncompromising but all the better for that. It puts the audience in an uncomfortable but fascinating place, leaving you wondering whether revenge could be acceptable if the initial crime is heinous enough.

‘I wanted to make people feel something and then they could make up their own minds about it,’ says Muldowney. ‘I wanted the audience to understand this character and to almost feel sorry for him despite the violent acts that he carries out. It’s a bit twisted. The whole point was to put the audience in this grey area, so they could see both sides of the story. I was happy to not be didactic.’

While it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact budget of Savage, it seems to me that they received less cash in hand than is often wasted on an hour of prime-time reality TV. They had just four weeks to shoot the film and ended up with less coverage than they would have liked, though I must admit that I didn’t notice. Barry and Muldowney are also quick to point out that their low budget brought benefits as well as drawbacks.

‘If we’d had more money, I probably would have used CGI to help me depict the violence and bloodshed in certain scenes but in hindsight it became more about performance and using the length of the scene to get me there. I think it works just as well and that it’s just as disturbing and if we’d been more explicit it might not have been as good,’ says Muldowney. Barry adds a crucial point, ‘the other thing about low-budget filmmaking is that it gave us the freedom to make the film we wanted to make.’

Barry and Muldowney originally aimed to make Savage as part of the Catalyst Project – BSÉ/IFB, BCI, TVt3 and Arts Council scheme that aimed to get three low-budget features made – but when it wasn’t picked as one of the final projects, they decided to make it anyway.

Natural progression
‘We didn’t get Catalyst but we had put so much work into it at that point, it reinforced the fact that we really wanted to make it,’ explains Barry. ‘Funnily enough, all of the work you put into trying to get a Catalyst application together, all of the encouragement and meetings and so on bring you on the road towards making your film. It all became a weird, natural progression towards achieving funding for Savage.’

They make no secret of their gratitude to BSÉ/IFB, who strongly backed the project, ‘they put together the model that allowed us to get the film made,’ says Barry. And they commend Filmbase, which was also very supportive. In addition, the team raised money outside of the normal channels by sending an investment proposal to family, friends and, well, everyone they could. It worked.

It’s quite remarkable what they’ve achieved with the budget they accumulated and there are films out there with ten times the budget that don’t look half as good. Using the RED ONE, cinematographers Michael O’Donovan and Tom Comerford have created a stark, monochrome Dublin that is gritty without appearing in any way cheap. Muldowney is clearly adept at using sound and it is employed to great effect throughout the film and, in particular, to build the internal journey of Graynor.

It’s a tribute to the BSÉ/IFB ‘can do’ attitude that so many small, high-quality films are making their way to audiences. But the flipside is that there is increasing competition for berths at festivals even within Ireland. The makers of Savage hope to debut the film at Galway and take it from there.

Beyond Savage, Barry and Muldowney have two more films loaded up and ready to go and they’re just waiting to finalise funding before pulling the trigger. I’m genuinely looking forward to seeing what they do next.